November 17th, 2009
03:39 PM ET

Breast 'awareness' trumps self-exams, docs say

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/11/16/mammography.recommendation.changes/story.mammogram.gi.jpg caption="The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's new mammography recommendations have raised controversy." width=300 height=169]

Elizabeth Landau

A vacation to Washington nearly a decade ago led to a life-changing revelation for Kathi Cordsen. Passing by a breast cancer awareness event, her mother blurted it out: Her doctor had just confirmed that she had breast cancer.

She'd found the lump during a self-examination.

Fortunately, Cordsen's mom had found the cancer so early that she was able to have a lumpectomy and didn't need chemotherapy or radiation. That's why, today, Cordsen checks her own breasts every day in the shower.

"It was such an inspirational thing to find out that it saved her life, that's for sure," said Cordsen, 57, who submitted her story to CNN's iReport. "It's just important, to want to live and take care of yourself."
New guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say that women age 40 to 49 don't need to have routine mammograms anymore and that breast self-exams aren't recommended in general. The group found no evidence that self-exams reduce breast cancer death rates, and it discourages teaching women how to examine themselves.

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Filed under: Health Care • Women's Issues
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