What are the ACS guidelines for breast self-exam (BSE)?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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The ACS updated its guidelines for breast cancer screening in average-risk women in October 2015. [170] At this time, the ACS is in the process of updating the breast cancer screening guidelines for women at high risk, which were last updated in 2007. [171]

Breast examination

It is acceptable for women to choose not to do breast self-examination (BSE) or to do BSE regularly (monthly) or irregularly. Beginning in their early 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Whether a woman ever performs BSE, the importance of prompt reporting of any new breast symptoms to a health professional should be emphasized. Women who choose to do BSE should receive instruction and have their technique reviewed on the occasion of a periodic health examination

The ACS does not recommend clinical breast examination for breast cancer screening in average-risk women at any age


ACS recommendations are as follows [170] :

  • Women should begin regular screening mammography at age 45 years (strong recommendation)
  • Women aged 45-54 years should be screened annually (qualified recommendation)
  • Women 55 years and older should transition to biennial screening or have the opportunity to continue screening annually (qualified recommendation)
  • Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening at 40-44 years  of age (qualified recommendation)
  • Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer (qualified recommendation)

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