Science: Health: Diagnosis
Breast Self-Exam Aid   (+3)  [vote for, against]
Some objective guidance

I have heard from some women, including my wife, that while breast self- exam (BSE) instructions, either written or from a health professional, are very specific and clear as to time and technique, they are pretty vague about what a suspicious lump would feel like. It's especially tough for a woman with cystic ("grainy") breasts, who is feeling for a lumpier lump among the lumps.

I suggest that gynecologists' and mammography offices have learning models of normal, cystic and suspect breasts. Getting the feel of natural tissue would be difficult, but the main thing is that the *difference* between the models is similar to that of the real thing. The idea is to demonstrate how noticable a lump is to the touch.

This could give some women more confidence to actually do the BSE, which is skipped by too many.
-- bpilot, Jul 18 2004

Breast Self-exam Aid
Not the same thing [half, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

and while we are on the subject...
[po, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

A new market for an old idea:
[phundug, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Breast self exam does not reduce breast cancer mortality http://jncicancersp...ull/jnci;94/19/1445
This is the full text of a very large clinical trial. [bungston, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

"Routinely teaching breast self exam is dead" http://jncicancersp...ull/jnci;94/19/1420
An editorial from the same issue of JNCI. [bungston, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Cancerous Breast Model
Check yer psuedo-boob first, then delete this idea. [contracts, Oct 17 2004]

this is a good idea. in the meantime, compare the feel between left and right breast as you go. a lesion will most always be unilateral, whereas the fibrous "graininess" will be bilateral.

your idea would be especially helpful for women who have undergone mastectomy and have no other tissue to compare. (+)
-- xclamp, Jul 18 2004

Wouldn't the side-to-side comparison be difficult to do with one arm raised elbow-up (I think that's the usual technique)?
-- bpilot, Aug 11 2004

I don't have any problem with the unilateral issue. I use both hands, my fiancee' uses both breasts, she gets regular exams. My office hours are reasonable as well. Sometimes it is difficult to remember the original reason for the exam.....
-- normzone, Aug 11 2004

Maybe not widely known.

They had these things in my high school anatomy class...they came by with a normal breast and a lumpy one, as well as normal/lumpy scrotums.

The fake boobies were nice.

Now, what they didn't have was a normal/cystic/lumpy comparison, which you bring up. That might be a good idea, to create a grainy-feeling breast to serve as a "your breasts are more like this, so practice on these models instead." Couldn't hurt, anyway.
-- shapu, Aug 11 2004

Not to be confused with a breast exam aide, a highly sought-after position, I'm told.
-- RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2004

I am going to vote against this one. The suggestion is that better breast self exams will work better to prevent breast cancer deaths. Breast self exam as a screening method probably does not affect breast cancer mortality. A study to this effect is linked. This is not to say that encouraging self exam does not have other beneficial effects - sense of empowerment, body awareness etc. But improved exam proficiency will probably not provide any benefit.
-- bungston, Aug 11 2004

[contracts], thanks for finding the link. Don't know how I missed it. I'm not so sure about *widely* known, though; with some informal surveys I can't find a woman who has heard of, much less seen one. Maybe it's my peer group (I doubt it,though). So, they need better exposure.

Or do they? The trials linked by [bungston] and a few others I found seem to indicate otherwise. I only say "seem" because the lay articles I saw describing these trials typically say the BSE is now "controversial." Don't know where the controversy is, as the reviews show the BSE as ineffective, using trial methods that seem fair and thorough.

Thanks for the input.
-- bpilot, Aug 12 2004

Statistics and Studies be damned. My mother found a lump herself and is alive today to nag me about doing my self exam.
-- dentworth, Aug 12 2004

Ineffective at preventing cancer deaths, but maybe beneficial in other ways less easy to quantify.
-- bungston, Aug 13 2004

random, halfbakery