Self-Breast Examinations

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Running head: The Importance of Self-Breast Examinations

                         Health Promotion Teaching Project:
                     The Importance of Self-Breast Examinations

                                   Kristin Faber
                                   Nicole Reinke

                            Pacific Lutheran University
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                                  Self-Breast Examinations

       For our teaching project, we decided to teach a group of approximately 20 year

old women how to perform self-breast examinations. We were inspired to choose this

topic because we feel it is very important to understand the risks of breast cancer as it is

becoming more prevalent in our society. In Healthy People 2010, one of the goals is to

reduce the breast cancer death rate to 22.3 deaths per 100,000 women. This is a

significant goal because in 1998, the death rate was 27.9 deaths per 100,000 women.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States.

       In order to reduce the death rate, women need to be educated on risk factors and

how to detect changes in their breasts. It is recommended that women start performing

self-breast examinations at about the age of 20 in order to establish a baseline for when

women seek care from a clinical provider for a clinical beast exam. Since a woman

usually only sees a clinician about once a year, if that, it is very important that she herself

has a baseline for how her breasts feel, so that abnormalities can be differentiated.

       We realize that breast cancer is not only an issue for women, it also affects men.

We let our audience know that men also can develop breast cancer and it is important for

them to be familiar with their breast tissues as well. We did not include men in our

teaching project participants because we wanted the women to feel comfortable and we

felt that including men might make for a more uncomfortable situation for some women.

       As part of our project we wanted to inform the women about the most common

risk factors they should be concerned about, these include: age, family history, diet, and

ethnicity. Also when talking about risk factors, we feel it is important for women to
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understand how to change their current lifestyles in case they are at a higher risk for

breast cancer. Some ways to change one’s lifestyle is to minimize postmenopausal

hormones, have children at a younger age (but not too young because this can also put

one at risk for developing breast cancer), avoiding adult weight gain, regular exercise,

and limiting alcohol consumption. We feel it is important to mention all of these lifestyle

changes to our group because each lifestyle change could affect each of the women in the

group in a different way.

        Our audience for this project was a group of eight women ranging from 19-21

years old. The women varied in ethnicity, which included Caucasians, Trinbagonian, and

Asian-American. All the women participating in our project understood the importance

for self-breast examinations as this topic applies to all ethnicities.

        Overall, we feel that our teaching project went fairly well. We provided the group

with plenty of information of why self-breast examinations are important and how they

themselves can help reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. We provided two

handouts with more information on risk factors and life style changes which hopefully

the participants will read on their own time and maybe they will help them to change a

certain aspect of their life that puts them at greater risk for developing breast cancer.

        The environment we had when teaching our project was very casual, which by the

reaction we got, the audience seemed to like because in that environment they felt like

they could ask questions and not feel embarrassed. The group really liked the idea of the

fake breasts in which they could engage in hands on activity and feel for the cancer

lumps. Although they liked feeling the fake breast with cancer, some participants desired
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to feel what a normal breast is suppose to feel like, so they could compare them side by


        If we were to teach this project again, we would want to find a classroom and

actually be able to use a PowerPoint to show pictures and display facts for the audience.

By doing that, we would not want to take away the comfortable environment feeling

because we want the audience to be able to ask questions when they have them. By the

reaction from the women, we could also improve our activities to help engage the group

so that they might understand the topic a little more clearly. Instead of just reading a ton

of facts and statistics off, maybe we could read a little less and engage the participants

with pictures or visual aids so they can understand the prevalence of the cancer.

        At the end of our presentation, we felt like we had the consensus from the group

that they understood why they need to begin performing self-breast examinations and that

they would begin doing them. We allowed them to ask us questions and through their

questions we felt like they really understood what our objectives were and would spread

the information we gave them to other women.