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Sexual Anatomy, Reproduction, and the Menstrual Cycle

Breast Self-Exams

For years, experts advised women to perform monthly breast self examinations (BSEs), believing that doing so would allow women to find potentially cancerous lumps and get diagnosed and treated for breast cancer more quickly. Unfortunately, scientific studies designed to measure the efficacy of BSEs have not found that women who perform BSEs are any less likely to die of breast cancer than women who don’t perform them. For this reason, many medical guidelines and health organizations no longer recommend monthly BSEs. However, exploring your breasts is a good way to get to know your body and become familiar with what is normal for you.

Excerpted from the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. © 2011, Boston Women's Health Book Collective.  

For more information on breast cancer screening and early detection, see Breast Cancer Action’s recommendations and policy statement.


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