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Dr. C.
Dr. C., Board Certified
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 3064
Experience:  Physician with 30 years experience
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This week I attended my doctor's surgery and asked to have

Resolved Question:

this week I attended my doctor's surgery and asked to have my breast examined. I do this regularly at home of course but as i get older i am becoming more and more anxious about my health even though i have always been a healthy person. This visit was
triggered because recently I heard that one of my cousins had died of breast cancer. I am an extremely anxious person and started examining my breast area continuously and have thought i had a little lump in the top right breast but i have been so rough that
it is now quite tender and I couldn't decide whether there was a lump or not . The breasts are quite lumpy things anyway and it is difficult to know. i have had cysts in the past . I am 58 and my last mammogram was last year which was fine . The doctor examined
me but said all was fine and that my main problem is anxiety. I was happy but almost as soon as i left doubt sets in again hence why I am asking advice now. How hard should you press for instance and how frequently should you examine yourself? Why am I doubting
it seems I need continual reassurance.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, It's Dr. C. Board certified Ob-gyne with 30+ years of experience. I can help you today. I'm sorry that you're finding yourself anxious about this. The research shows that self-breast exam is not necessarily a good idea. It doesn't lead to increased detection of breast cancer or increased survival in women who are found later to have breast cancer. In many women, it does lead to increased anxiety and often to unnecessary intervention and harm. When doing breast self- exams, it's important not to be thinking so much about the pressure of needing to find a breast cancer. Instead, a woman should focus on the idea of what feels normal for her, including all the confusing lumps and bumps. And noticing if something is different. It may help to run a breast risk calculator. The one I use in my practice is the Gail model. http://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool/ You can enter your own data and get a comparison of your risk relative to average women of your age. That may help with your anxiety. Overall, if examining your breasts is leading to anxiety, we'd advise that you stop examining yourself. Instead, it would be most helpful to continue with your annual mammograms and then have a gynecologist examine once yearly and a primary care examine once yearly as well, 6 months apart from the gynecologist. That way you'd have an expert exam every 6 months plus imaging yearly. That would be plenty of evidence based screening. I hope this was reassuring. Please reply if I can clarify anything.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thankyou but in UK we are only invited for mammograms every 3 years so i would have to do this privately but advice here is not to have mammograms too regularly. my doctor says check regularly so advice is conflicting hence you can see why people get stressed. The tool is useful thanks for that. I know I should trust my GP but anxiety takes over.
Expert:  Dr. C. replied 1 year ago.
Ah yes, you're in the UK. As long as the risk calculator doesn't put you at elevated risk, that's fine. There is a lot of conflicting opinion about how often to do mammograms. I still advise women to go yearly between ages of 50 and around 70 but I know many female gynecologists who go less often. It's tricky to balance out the risks versus the benefits. Any other questions?
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no thank you very much and I hope i have not wasted your time. I will have to become less anxious somehow.