Friday, January 8, 2010

Feel Your Boobs People

I was on facebook last night cruising through brilliant comments from the elite thinkers of our generation and I came across this gem. Someone had commented that breast self exams are useless, they heard about it on Dateline. My first reaction: Are you kidding me?

Voila, the article:

"..a new analysis confirming that the breast self-exam (or BSE) truly doesn’t make much of a difference after all."

Ok, time for the second response: Are you kidding me??

Women in their 20s and 30s rarely get breast cancer,” he says. “But they do have a lot more benign lumps and bumps. It’s not worth emphasizing breast self-exams for women at this age.”

True, I just yesterday had a discussion with my oncology nurse about this same topic. Breasts are dense and fibrous at younger age, and they tend to un-dense with age. This means that mammograms are more effective for women in their 50s than in their 20s. The picture is just too dense for younger women. It's like trying to see a polar bear in a snowstorm at the north pole or chilling on a grassy football field at halftime. Plus in young women there are all sorts of things that cause lumps. Heck, I'm sure just thinking about lumps causes lumps.

It's this exact thinking, however, that almost got me in hot water. I found a lump, went to my OB/GYN and he dismissed it as excessive caffeine intake. Now, to be fair, 9 times out of 10 (or maybe 99 times out of 100) that is the case. For me, it wasn't. The important thing is to know what's normal for you and elevate concern if you start to see other signs. For me in addition to finding a lump I had itching, pain, a red spot, the breast was swollen, and my nipple was flattened. Now, my OB/GYN still didn't think that it was a concern, but luckily I am a persistant pain in the butt and was referred to a surgeon sent directly from the heavens to save me so I was able to catch it (even though it was advanced, it wasn't too late to treat).

So feel your boobs my friends, or I'm coming over there to feel them for you. And, most importantly, educate yourself. Know your risk, know what's normal or abnormal for you, know the warning signs. And don't be afraid to be a persistant pain in the butt if you know something's wrong. I'll back you up.

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