Breast Health - The Controversy of Self Breast Exams & Mammograms and What You Should Do

October 2012

Get more information on the controversy of self breast exams and mammograms.Recommendations for routine breast health differ greatly, which means knowing what to do can be very confusing for you. Even the most respected women's health sources still debate the guidelines of preventative breast health, today. In line with the American Cancer Society, we've created a list of our own recommendations on two of the most highly debated topics. While the ultimate choice about breast screening is a personal one between a woman and her healthcare provider, these are just some general guidelines that may be useful.

Self Breast Exams

While self breast exams can be very helpful and possibly lead to preventing breast cancer, it is important to remember a few things:

  • The most important benefit of self breast exams is getting to know your own body. Once you become aware of what is normal for your breasts, you'll be much better educated in what is abnormal.
  • If something is abnormal, you should report the changes to your healthcare provider.
  • Negatives of self breast exams include: Unnecessary biopsies, increased stress and anxiety and an overall lack of definite proof that they lower the incidence rate of breast cancer in women.


Some say you should start getting mammograms at age 40, others say 50. With so many trusted sources differing on the topic, the anxiety of needing a mammogram does not go away.

  • Our recommendation, along with the American Cancer Society, is to begin regular, yearly mammograms at age 40.
  • In addition to regular mammograms women over the age of 40, should also get Clinical Breast Exams. Clinical breast exams allow your doctor to test for any abnormalities and provide an opportunity to personally discuss your individual breast health

We understand determining a preventative routine can be confusing, but together as a team, we can find the best plan for your health. For questions and/or concerns about your personal breast health, make an appointment and get the tools & resources you need to make an informed decision about your health care.


This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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