Women of all ages should know that no single test can detect every possible form of breast cancer. That being said, a routine mammogram is the gold standard for breast cancer screening in women. There are no acceptable alternatives to advanced digital mammography and the technology it uses. 

In recent years, there’s been debate over the value of a manual breast exam, whether performed by the woman herself or a healthcare provider. In fact, the American Cancer Society stopped recommending breast exams as effective screening methods in 2015. The organization cites data that reports how this practice is more likely to present false positive diagnoses than it is to save lives. 

It should be noted that these guidelines are intended for women of average risk for breast cancer. You can talk to your primary care provider to determine if you’re at average risk, based on your family members and personal medical history.

Know Enough to Know Your Body

Still, the medical community – including the American Cancer Society and the healthcare providers at Catholic Health – knows the value of women understanding how their breast “normally” look and feel. Often, this gives patients the confidence to report any changes between mammograms to their doctor. 

Routine screens for women under 30 aren’t usually recommended for those with average risk, because the occurrence rate is so low. Regardless of age, women shouldn’t hesitate to know their bodies and voice any concerns to their doctors, including OB/GYNs.

What to Look for in a Breast Exam

A few things to keep an eye on:

  • Lack of usual symmetry between breasts, though changes in shape do happen over time
  • A lump or knot you can feel, this could even be closer to your underarm
  • Discharge from the nipple 

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152