Last Tuesday, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired on CBS. The fashion spectacle features models such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, Behati Prinsloo and Adriana Lima walking down the runaway in the sexiest, over-the-top lingerie. The models are awed because of their picture-perfect bodies, with legs for days, booty-licious curves and, of course, an impressive-looking bosom.

Now that we’re on the subject of breasts, let’s talk about them from a more medical angle. On a worldwide scale, breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women, affecting about 12% of women worldwide. The occurrence of breast cancer worldwide is increasing and this phenomena needs to be prevented. One of the most controversial methods for screening breast cancer is the breast self-exam (BSE), which entails women looking at and feeling their own breasts, for lumps, swelling, changes in skin color, rashes and other deviations.

The question, however, remains: should women perform their own breast self-exams? There are two very clear sides to this answer, namely a group that is against performing breast self-exams and a group that encourages people to do it.


Against BSE

In an article from Best Health Magazine, dr. Nancy Baxter argues against BSE.  She argues that most women find signs of potential breast cancer during casual activities, such as dressing and showering, and not during a BSE. And these lumps that are found, are usually relatively large. With other screening tests, like mammography, breast cancer can be detected in an earlier stage, which then means that the cancer can be treated at an earlier stage.

Various scientific organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US National Cancer Institute, recommend against using BSE as a method to screen for breast cancer. According to studies performed by these organizations, BSE does not reduce breast cancer mortality.


From the same Best Health Magazine article, Diana Ermell strongly encourages women to perform their own BSE’s. Ermell argues that when women check their breasts for lumps and other signs of breast cancer on a regular basis, they will be able to detect changes that have to be identified by a medical professional.

According to Susan G. Komen from Breast Cancer Foundation, young women should start with monthly BSE’s from age 20 onwards. She argues that BSE are not just for detecting breast cancer – they are meant to familiarize women with their own breasts, so that they can notice changes more quickly and that then can be checked by a medical professional. According to Komen, the younger the woman, the more aggressive the breast cancer and the sooner it is detected, the sooner it can be treated.

Now you know both side of the argument. Are you performing BSE or not?



Photos source: Victoria’s Secret