Doctor reminds women there is no one-size-fits-all breast cancer screening

 

It's surgery day for Dr. Lori Alfonse.

As the Medical Director of Breast Health Services at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Alfonse says there is no one size fits all breast cancer screening.

But conflicting guidelines from the American College of Physicians and the American Cancer Society may have some women wondering what they should be doing for their breast health.

"You need to have a one-to-one conversation with your primary care provider about what your risk is, what your family history is, what your goals for screening are," Dr. Alfonse said.

Both guidelines recommend talking to your doctor about screenings starting in your 40's, but the frequency is where the recommendations differ.

Alfonse says genetics and environmental factors play a major role in breast cancer development.

So it's also important for a woman to take charge of her screening by performing breast self exams every month.

"There is no real specified best way to do it, some people talk about circles, some people talk about lions, some people talk about spokes of the wheel," Alfonse said.

"The important thing is to know your body and examine it at least once a month consistently so that you recognize a change."

Alfonse says women should examine the area from the clavicle to the bottom of the bra band and from the middle of the arm pit to the breast bone.

If you find something, report it to your doctor.

She says mammogram guidelines are good, but knowing your body, knowing your genetic history and talking to your doctor every year about your risk is the best line of defense.

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