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A Public Service Announcement About Breast Self-Examination from SexEdPlus(.com)
1: Did you know that breast exams aren’t recommended any more?
2: Wait, what? My doctor just reminded me to do a monthly check!
1: Obviously a few people disagree, or your doctor might not have heard, but the CDC, the WHO, the National Cancer Institute, none of them recommend the exams any more.
1: Well, there’s never really been any evidence supporting them. There’s some cynical ideas about how a few groups have benefited from promoting them all this time. And there are finally some big studies just showing they don’t improve mortality rates.
2: But it couldn’t hurt to do them, right?
1: Actually, they think the exams could lead to needless biopsies and surgeries that do more harm than good. Or just make people needlessly anxious.
2: What should I do then?
1: Well, they are pretty sure that women between the ages of 50 and 74 should get a mammogram every two years. And maybe if you’re younger.
1: The evidence just isn’t really clear. Everyone says you should see a doctor if you notice something weird.
2: That makes sense, I guess.
1: Some groups are recommending ‘breast awareness’ but we don’t actually know what good that does.
2: I guess I have some cynical thoughts on why so much public attention has been focused on breast cancer. Compared to cervical cancer or heart disease. I mean, if you actually look at the numbers, and which groups are affected…
1: Well, one thing you can do is support funding for research. The effect isn’t immediate, but we’ll keep correcting these misconceptions and developing techniques that do work.