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How to monitor the condition of the mammary glands

“About every two months, sometimes more often, I check my breasts,” says Marlene Egan, a sales representative for a large computer firm. I know that I need to be more attentive to this procedure. After all, I'm 41 years old.
However, when I probe all these bulges and protrusions, I do not understand how I can recognize a dangerous formation if it appears. So basically I rely on my doctor, from whom I am checked once a year and by appointment of whom I go through a mammogram. ”
Many women do the same as Marlin. Surveys showed that, as a rule, women are aware of the need for self-testing, but only a third of them practice it. And although most women are likely to have had a mammogram at least once, according to the National Institute of Health, only 31 percent of women aged 40 and over take pictures as often as recommended by the National Cancer Institute. Apparently, the United States does not pay enough attention to mass screening to detect breast cancer, and experts at the National Cancer Institute believe that this may be the main reason for the unceasing deaths from breast cancer in the last thirty years.
Although there is no reliable way to prevent breast cancer, experts say that early detection of a tumor gives the best chance of cure. Therefore, most experts believe that every woman over 20 years old should follow these recommendations:
Once a month, conduct a self-test of the mammary glands.
Undergo a medical examination every three years until they reach the age of forty and annually after 40 years.
At the age between 35 and 39 years, undergo a mammogram to have pictures that would serve as a reference point.
At the age of 40 to 49 years, undergo a mammogram once every two to two years, at a later age annually.
It's simple enough, isn't it? Then why don't women follow these recommendations?
“One reason is that self-examination of the mammary glands is still poorly understood,” says Susan Love, MD, director of the Falkner Center for Breast Disease Research in Boston, as well as associate professor and clinical surgeon at Harvard Medical Institute. We advise women to monitor the changes that are taking place, but we don’t explain to them exactly which changes. We do not explain what a cancerous tumor feels to the touch. ”
Like Marlin, most women trying to do a self-test cast it or do it irregularly because they get scared. “They don’t know if they’re doing the test right, and they’re afraid of finding anything,” says Wend Logan-Young, MD, director of the Breast Disease Clinic in Rochester, NY, and consultant at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. In any case, this is associated with anxiety and anxiety. I knew women who told me: “Yes, I can conduct a breast examination, but if I suddenly find a tumor, I can’t bear it, I will die.” Women need someone else, their doctor, for example, to take responsibility, ”she adds.
Even women who have had benign tumors have been reluctant to do a self-test. As a result of a survey of 655 women, researchers at the University of Michigan's Department of Health in Ann Arbor found that women who found tumors that later turned out to be benign had a three-fold chance of stopping self-tests that women who have never found tumors.
Women who find benign tumors in themselves believe that they seemed to voluntarily cause a lot of trouble, the researchers conclude. Even if the outcome was completely favorable, the stress, discomfort, anxiety and insecurity that accompanied this event had such an effect that many people stopped doing self-tests. Doctors should be especially attentive to these women, and they should try to convince them to continue self-testing.
“Women who are so worried that they are simply not able to conduct a self-examination of their breasts just need to visit their doctor more often, say, every three to four months,” says Dr. Love, who is the author of Dr. Love’s book on breast diseases. " Then they will not experience excruciating feelings, but if a tumor appears, it will be detected at an early stage of development.
Do not consider yourself special if a self-test unsettles you, adds Dr. Love. We all have our own oddities, you just developed increased suspiciousness. ”

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