What Are the Pros and Cons of Self-Exams?

Have you made breast self-exams a monthly habit?

Along with annual screenings for breast abnormalities with your doctor, women are often instructed to learn how to perform their own examinations to complete each month. Are these exams a good idea? Evaluate the pros and cons.


  • 40 percent of breast cancers are discovered during a self-exam. There is no argument that self-exams can provide valuable information and save lives.
  • You'll get to know your breasts. Self-exams are a great habit to form, even at a young age when breast cancer is unlikely. Knowing what's normal for your breasts will make it very obvious if something changes down the road.
  • You can examine your own breasts frequently. While professional screenings are typically only done once a year, a self-exam can be conducted once a month. The higher frequency allows for more opportunities to find problem areas early.
  • You'll never receive a medical bill for a self-exam. It won't cost you a dime. How many other health screenings can you say that about?


  • Self-exams cannot replace mammograms. Some women may be tempted to skip their annual appointments because they think self-exams are enough. Don't buy into this myth! Both screenings are essential to your healthcare plan.
  • Self-exams can cause false panic. Most of the abnormalities you may discover during an exam will end up being harmless. Don't let anything you discover cause you distress prematurely.
  • Self-exams can be improperly performed. Ask your doctor to show you how to do one correctly.

If you notice any abnormalities during your monthly self-exam, our cancer care team can get you checked out. Receive a free physician referral when you call our Consult-a-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5119.

Related Posts:

Breast Cancer: Let's Fight It Together

Breast Cancer Awareness: Importance of Screening

1 in 8 Women Get Breast Cancer: Reduce Your Risk

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