'No breast self-exams' notion hits sour note

By LaKecia Shockley - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The recommendation for women to stop performing self breast exams is just baffling. It has turned the heads of some East Texas oncologists - not to mention women who have found lumps in their breasts by self-examination.

Norma Whitehurst knows first hand how vital breast self exams can be.

"I found three knots in my breast when I was about 20 years old, and had to have them removed," said Whitehurst who is the Texas Oncology Volunteer Coordinator, and doesn't agree with the U.S. panel that breast self-exams are not useful.

"I think it's ridiculous that they're saying that!" she said. "It just slays me that they would say that it's not an important thing to do."

Longview Cancer Center oncologist Dr. Linda Couch agrees.

"I tell patients, 'The more people who look, the more times they look, the more likely they are to find it," said Couch. "A lot of women go through biopsies that are benign, but, at the end of the line, if you're the one that it turns out to be the important exam for, it's life saving."

A life saving tool that helped Whitehurst find lumps in her breast.

"When I found it, I thought, 'Ohhhhhh no, this can't be me,'" said Whitehurst.

"They say in the United States we over treat cancer," said Couch. "We do, but likewise we cure more cancer than any country in the world. If you're the one it's absolutely worth it."

"You just can't not do it!" said Whitehurst. "You got to check it because you want to take care of yourself and you want to be there for your family and for the future."

Fortunately, Whitehurst's tumors turned out to be benign. She says the best thing about self-exams is that they are the first line of defense and it is free detection that anyone can do at anytime.

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