Many major public and private institutions publish recommendations for breast cancer screening. Recommendations vary by source, and are altered regularly to reflect changes in approach and organizational priorities. Resulting press releases and media add to the confusion. Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines may mislead women and practitioners because they are often dependent on selected reports and references that favor one approach over others. Advances in breast cancer research support different approaches to screening indicating that the best course for each woman may be to select the best option for her from those that are widely recommended.
Organizational Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines and Recommendations: Under Review
Breast Self-Awareness and Breast Self-Exam – The Controversy
Updates to breast cancer screening recommendations in recent years have created confusion over the value of breast self-exam (BSE). Many of the studies that inspired criticism of BSE were done before it was known how to perform BSE correctly. Researchers relied on pamphlets and demonstrations as teaching devices and failed to address the central question: what does a lump actually feel like?
Today, many major breast cancer agencies recommend “breast self-awareness” to encourage women to learn the normal look and feel of their breasts. Best-practices are based on research and recommend BSE using the MammaCare Method is the most effective technique to foster breast self-awareness. Research documents that a significant proportion of breast cancer is first detected by a woman herself – even after a normal screening mammogram. These “interval cancers” are detected by fingers in the window of time between mammography appointments.
American Cancer Society. (2014). American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/cancerscreeningguidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer
Hauk, Lisa. (2012). American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Updates Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines. American Family Physician, 85(6): 654-655. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0315/p654.html
Susan G. Komen. (2015). Screening and Early Detection. http://ww5.komen.org/breastcancer/earlydetectionampscreening.html
Nelson, H.D., Tyne, K., Nalk, A., Bougatsos, C., Chan, B.K., and Humphrey, L. (2009). Screening for breast cancer: An update for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Annals of Internal Medicine, 151(10): 727-737.