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Other examinations for breast cancer screening (not recommended)

General notice

Women aged 70 to 74 years can from now on participate in the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS). To learn more, visit the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program page.

A mammography is the only recommended procedure for breast cancer screening in Québec. There are other methods to detect an abnormality, including:

  • Breast self-examination
  • Clinical breast examination

Breast self-examination is a screening method in which women use a specific technique to observe and touch their breasts on a regular basis. The goal of breast self-examination is to discover changes: a sign or lump that could indicate the presence of breast cancer.

Women were once taught breast self-examination to screen for breast cancer. However, studies showed that this method did not reduce breast cancer deaths and that it led to other unnecessary tests. Women who perform breast self-examinations do not reap the benefits but instead suffer inconveniences. As a result, breast self-examination is not recommended as an effective screening method. However, you must remain attentive and inform your doctor of any changes in your breasts.

A clinical breast examination is performed by a healthcare professional. The exam consists of observing and touching the women’s breasts and armpits to check for abnormalities. The exam can be used to verify certain symptoms or be done for other medical reasons.

However, no study has shown that clinical breast examination is a screening method that could reduce breast cancer mortality. This exam is therefore not recommended as a screening method but may be used as a follow-up to a mammogram.

Last update: February 1, 2024


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