Dissatisfaction With Breasts May Mean Fewer Self-Checks for Cancer

From Drugs.com - January 10, 2018

Dissatisfaction With Breasts May Mean Fewer Self-Checks for Cancer

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 10, 2018 -- Women who are unhappy with the size of their breasts -- whether too big or too small -- may be less likely to perform self-exams to check for signs of breast cancer, new research suggests.

These women are also more likely to put off seeing a doctor if they do find a suspicious lump in their breast, the study found.

"For women who are dissatisfied with their breast size, having to inspect their breasts may be experienced as a threat to their body image and so they may engage in avoidance behaviors," said study co-author Viren Swami. He's a social psychology professor at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England.

"Breast size dissatisfaction may also activate negative self-conscious emotions such as shame and embarrassment that results in avoiding breast self-examination," Swami said in a university news release.

Most of the 384 women in the study admitted they were not entirely satisfied with their breast size. About 31 percent wanted smaller breasts and 44 wanted their breasts to be larger.

Overall, about a third of the women said they rarely or never performed breast self-exams. Of those who did, women who were not happy with their breast size were the least likely to do the self-exams.

Regular self-exams are considered an important part of breast cancer prevention. The researchers noted that women who do these checks routinely have a better understanding of how their breasts normally look and feel, which helps them detect potentially worrisome changes.

Suspicious findings during self-exams, however, did not always prompt the study participants to see their doctor right away. Of those who did perform self-exams, 8 percent said they would wait as long as possible before seeing a doctor if they ever detected a potential problem, and 2 percent said they would never make an appointment.

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