How to Not Be Afraid of Checking Your Breasts

In connection with breast cancer awareness month, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, has launched a campaign encouraging women under 40 to take control of their breast health.

The campaign comes less than a year from the massive controversy surrounding efforts by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to strip funding for Planned Parenthood for breast health services and serves as a reminder of all the health care services the organization provides.

“Too often women under 40 dismiss a lump as something that does not need attention, or the fear of what an abnormality could be becomes paralyzing,” said Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Our goal is to break down those myths and fears, and provide women with more information so that they can be their own best breast expert.  This video helps do that.”

In connection with the campaign, Planned Parenthood released a video last week featuring Gabrielle Union, star of the new BET drama Being Mary Jane and Planned Parenthood breast health advocate, discussing the need for women to move beyond their fear when they find an abnormality in their breast.

“Fear is what prevented my dear friend Kristen from getting a breast abnormality checked out —and that fear cost Kristen her life,” said Union.  “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to take action and educate ourselves and our friends, so that if something doesn’t feel right, you talk to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.”

Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses play a unique role in delivering health care to young women, as 94 percent of Planned Parenthood patients are under the age of 40. Campaigns like this one can help young women understand the screening that’s best for them as well as the factors that can reduce their breast cancer risk, factors that include getting regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake.

The campaign highlights certain breast health truths that many young women tend to brush off. For example, clinical breast exams are the first line of defense for providers in detecting breast cancer in most young women.  Each year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses provide nearly 750,000 breast exams.  Like most ob/gyns and primary care physicians, if a Planned Parenthood health care provider finds an abnormality during an exam, the patient is referred to a breast specialist for further examination, which may include diagnostic tests, like an ultrasound or biopsy.

Planned Parenthood’s newly established diagnostic grant program helps to cover the costs of these tests for patients when possible, as the tests can be costly, especially for uninsured and low-income women. To date, 47 Planned Parenthood affiliates have applied for and received funding to expand their breast health services to cover the costs of diagnostic follow up care.

That care is made possible in part by grants from the Komen Foundation, a fact that makes the political nature of their controversy all the more apparent and distressing. Breast cancer prevention and treatment should not be up for political debate, and Planned Parenthood’s campaign reminds us why: women’s lives are on the line when it is.

Related Stories:

Shame On The Susan G. Komen Foundation

Komen Shedding Leadership As Backlash Grows

Komen Reinstates Planned Parenthood Funding


Photo from Fibonacci Blue via flickr.


Prakash Lewis
Prakash Lewis5 years ago

As if we don't have enough carcinogens with us , there is one more concern for getting a breast cancer - the density. I suppose they keep coming with more and more reasons to get a cancer. Here is what I found about the connection between the breast density and the occurrence of breast cancer :

Past Member
Christine W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

natalie n.
natalie n5 years ago

sometimes we all need just that little push and encouragement. thanks for pushing when it matters.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you

Linda Rust
Past Member 5 years ago

Thomas P., How right you are. The controversy involving Planned Parenthood was instigated by those protesting their providing of abortion services. But, as has so often been stated, abortion services account for only 3% of the healthcare P.P. provides. The bulk of their very important contributions to women's healthcare comes from mammograms, cervical screenings and family planning. In many areas, they are the only healthcare providers available to low income and/or uninsured women. They deserve all our support for the immense amount of good they do. Didn't Romney say he wanted to de-fund Planned Parenthood as soon as he took office? How in the world can he be running such a close race with Pres. Obama, who completely supports women's rights to healthcare, as well as the right for ALL Americans to receive the healthcare they need?

Thomas P.
Thomas P5 years ago

I hope all those who have heard Planned Parenthood being vilified in the last few years read this article. You can't claim to support women and their rights and also want to defund Planned Parenthood.

paul m.
paul m5 years ago

Women ,,you must check your brests ,,,,or it might be too late...!!

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

Important to get this information disseminated as broadly as possible: thank you Jessica!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

Check your have only to fear if you don't.

Fiona Dudley
Fiona Dudley5 years ago

Thanks. This message was at least a bit encouraging.
I must say though, that I just can't bring myself to do self-exams. Why? Because of course I am afraid! I have no insurance and cannot afford even the diagnostic tests, never mind treatment. The "last" thing I want to discover on my own is a suspicious lump... then worry whether that lump is actually nothing or a sign of cancer. Then agonize over what to do about it. And probably put off doing anything about it.
At least with mammograms, or access to low-cost breast exams at a place like Planned Parenthood, I can put myself in the hands of people I trust. If there's going to be bad news, I'd rather get it that way - from a supportive health care provider who can give me the facts.