Women find their own breast cancers most of the time. (Ninety percent of the time according to one English study.7)
Monthly breast self-exam (or breast self-massage) provides early detection at lower cost, with no danger-and more pleasure-than yearly screeningmammograms.
Most breast cancers (80 percent) are slow growing, taking between 42 and 300 days to double in size.
A yearly mammogram could find these cancers 8-16 months before they could be felt, but this "early detection" does little to improve the already excellent longevity of women with slow-growing, non-metastasized breast cancers.
The 20 percent of breast cancers that are fast growing are the trouble-makers. They can double in size in 21 days. Monthly breast self-exams are much more likely to find these aggressive cancers than are yearly mammograms. (A 21-day doubling cancer will be visible on a mammogram only 6 weeks before it can be felt.) If you massage or examine your breasts even six times a year, you can take action on fast-growing lumps. If you rely on mammograms exclusively, the cancer could grow undetected for months.
In a recent look at 60,000 breast cancer diagnoses in the United States, 67 percent were found by the woman or her doctor -and over half of these were not visible on a mammogram-while 33 percent were discovered by mammogram. (This may seem like a substantial number of cancers found by mammography, but the majority of them were in situ cancers, a controversial type of cancer that may-but often does not-progress to invasive cancer.)
Susun Weed, Copyright 2012
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Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health.
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