Not doing regular breast self-exam because of fear of discovering something

One of the reasons why breast cancers are discovered late is because of this statement usually made by patients when advised to do regular breast self-exam: “I am afraid of doing breast self-exam because I may discover something which may be breast cancer.”

Over the years, I have been battling with this resistance when I keep on advising patients to do regular breast self-exam as this promotes early discovery of breast cancer when it develops.

Last week, I encountered another patient saying the same thing.  I tried to help this patient overcome this kind of fear by doing a nitty-gritty proposition.

Starting point: Not doing regular breast self-exam because of fear of discovering something bad (assumptions: they know how to do breast self-exam; they care about discovering breast cancer early)

If you do regular breast self-exam, if you discover nothing unusual, you have a better peace of mind.

If you don’t do regular breast self-exam, you have no peace of mind because you don’t know whether you have something bad in your breasts.

If you don’t do regular breast self-exam, you usually do one of these things:

  • Keep on not doing breast self-exam. Then you continue to have no peace of mind because you don’t know whether you have something bad in your breasts.
  • Subject yourself to screening diagnostic tests like mammogram and ultrasound at planned intervals without a breast specialist consult.  You somehow will have a better peace of mind if the reports are negative.
  • Consult a breast specialist at planned intervals.  Then, you have better peace of mind if the findings are negative.

If you do screening diagnostic tests and consult a breast specialist at planned intervals, you still have to contend with the time or period wherein there are no tests or breast specialist’s examination and when a breast cancer can appear.

You still have to do regular breast self-exam in the time or period where there are no tests or breast specialist’s examination because breast cancer can appear during this time.  You cannot have monthly diagnostic tests and / or breast specialist’s examination.

Thus, you really have to do regular monthly breast self-exam if you really want to catch an early breast cancer that may appear and if you want to have a better peace of mind.

ROJ-TPOR@16aug5

Case in Point (Actual Incident) on the Importance of Breast Self-examination:

GS, 47-year-old female, had a mammography on March 19, 2016 which reported BIRADS 2-0 (benign findings).  There was no mass seen nor suspicious tight clusters of microcalcifications.  In other words, no signal for cancer.  In May 2016, she palpated a mass on her right breast. She then consulted a breast specialist. She was operated on July 2016.  A 5-cm breast cancer mass was noted.

ROJ-TPOR@16aug18

 

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