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New Breast Self-Check App Connects Users Directly With Doctors

Keep A Breast app screen images

Keep A Breast Foundation

Key Takeaways

  • The Keep A Breast Foundation is launching a new breast self-exam tool for young people.
  • The new app allows users to virtually connect with physicians at Carbon Health to discuss any breast abnormalities. 
  • Early breast cancer detection saves lives by facilitating faster diagnosis and treatment.

The Keep A Breast Foundation is launching a new breast self-examination app today, offering users the option to virtually connect with a doctor in minutes if they find a breast abnormality.

While breast self-exam apps are nothing new, the Keep A Breast app is the first to have an integrated telehealth component thanks to a partnership with Carbon Health. The goal, the foundation says, is to help turn fear and uncertainty into action.

"We wanted to be able to bridge that gap to give people access to healthcare as soon as possible," Shaney jo Darden, founder of the Keep A Breast Foundation, tells Verywell, acknowledging that finding a breast lump is "such a scary moment."

According to Darden, the Carbon Health physicians are particularly well-versed in women's health issues. They'll be able to assist with any necessary next steps, such as writing referrals for imaging like mammograms or ultrasounds. While the Keep A Breast app itself is free, a consult with Carbon Health will be billed towards insurance. For those without insurance, a visit will cost $69.

Why Breast Cancer Screening Matters For Young People

Darden created the Keep A Breast Foundation 20 years ago after losing a friend to breast cancer at 33 years old. Her goal: to raise awareness about breast cancer in young people.

Women younger than 45 make up about 11% of all new cases of breast cancer in the U.S.

“Everything I researched was for older women and seemed so proper," she says. "There wasn't anyone at that time who was talking about early detection. They were only taking about a cure or drug research."

According to Aashini Master, DO, a board-certified oncologist at UCLA Health and Keep A Breast Foundation advisor, early detection has huge benefits.

"Quite simply, the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of a cure," she tells Verywell.

What This Means For You

While most people won't get a mammogram until age 40, it's never too early to start thinking about breast cancer prevention. Most lumps in premenopausal women are benign. But in the event that a lump is cancerous, early detection through self-checks is critical. When cancer is identified in the early, or localized, stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%.

The Breast Self-Exam: Simple, But Powerful

Forty percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer first discover a lump or abnormality either by accident or through a doctor’s examination. The Keep A Breast app walks users through a simple, illustrated, five-step process to make finding a lump less of a surprise.

“Each woman’s breasts are different and undergo changes throughout the month related to hormones,” Master says. “It is important for women to know what is normal for them so they can know when something is abnormal. I typically educate my patients to contact me if they feel a firm mass that does not resolve on its own within two weeks.”

The app encourages users to perform their monthly breast self-exam a week after the end of their menstrual period to account for any changes that are purely hormonal.

“It is important to remember that the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women remains rare, so most breast lumps are overwhelmingly benign," Master says.

Still, Darden says you shouldn't dismiss concerns just because you're young.

"It's your health and it's your body. You have the right to all the information and options out there," she says. "If you feel that something isn't right, trust your intuition and don't let it slide."

Understanding Your Risk

Only 5 to 10% of breast cancer genes are hereditary. But women with a strong family history of breast cancer may want to consider seeing a specialist to create an individualized screening plan beyond monthly self-checks, Master says. This may involve alternating between a mammogram and an MRI every six months, even before the age of 40.

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Article Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast cancer in young women. Updated July 9, 2019.

  2. American Cancer Society. Survival rates for breast cancer. Updated January 8, 2020.

  3. Roth MY, Elmore JG, Yi-Frazier JP, Reisch LM, Oster NV, Miglioretti DL. Self-detection remains a key method of breast cancer detection for U.S. womenJ Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011;20(8):1135-1139. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2493

  4. American Cancer Society. Breast cancer risk factors you cannot change. Updated September 10, 2019.