Breast self-exams crucial

Dear editor:
Many women are confused by reports that they no longer need to examine their breasts because recent scientific studies say breast self-exams (BSE) do not reduce a woman’s chances of dying of breast cancer.
However, many experts will agree that if women learn to do BSE correctly, they could find a tumour earlier when it is very small. And the smaller a breast cancer when it is discovered, the better is the prognosis for the woman.
In fact, most breast cancers are found by women or their partners.
Mammography is still the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer, and women over 50 can make an appointment for a mammogram without a doctor’s referral by calling the Ontario Breast Screening Program at 1-800-461-7031.
For women under 50, however, regular breast cancer screening is not available without a doctor’s referral. For these women, BSE may be the only avenue for early detection.
So, the Thunder Bay Breast Health Coalition continues to advocate that all women should do regular BSE and have their breasts examined on a regular basis by a health-care professional.
Regularly examining your own breasts helps a woman to become familiar with how her breasts normally look and feel, which can help her detect any changes that may occur.
Women who want to learn to do BSE properly can visit our website at
Our popular BSE pamphlets are being distributed locally at lingerie stores throughout Thunder Bay. They also are available at your local health unit office or by calling the Canadian Cancer Society at 1-800-227-5557.
Kathy Thompson
Thunder Bay Breast
Health Coalition