DC station airs demo of bare breast self-exams
By SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer Sarah Karush, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 46 mins ago
WASHINGTON – The ABC affiliate here is airing a two-part series that takes a close — and unobscured — look at breast self-exams. The series is airing during the fall "sweeps" period critical for a TV station's ad revenue, prompting concern by a parental watchdog group. But WJLA insists it's not just a naked attempt to boost the ratings.
The two segments include clinical demonstrations of self-exams, and the breasts of the two volunteers are not blurred. They were to air during the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts Thursday and Friday.
WJLA officials said the segments are providing an important service because many women don't know how to properly check their breasts.
"In talking to women, we found out there really weren't a lot of women who knew how to do self breast exams," station manager Bill Lord said.
The station's adult viewers are 58 percent female, spokeswoman Abby Fenton said.
The Parents Television Council reacted cautiously to news of the series but suggested it saw the potential for problems.
"We hope that WJLA-TV is not using a crucial public health issue as a ratings stunt, and that the station has fully considered what is appropriate to tell this important story to the public in the most suitable manner possible," the group said in a statement. That might mean different versions of the story at 5 p.m. and at 11 p.m., it added.
The segments will be breaking a broadcast television taboo against exposed breasts. The Federal Communications Commission fined CBS Corp. for the "wardrobe malfunction" that bared Janet Jackson's breast during the 2004 Super Bowl. But Lord said he did not believe a clinical demonstration in a medical story on a news show would run into any trouble with decency standards.
One of the two women featured in the WJLA segments has breast cancer and caught it by doing a self-exam.
The reports also include interviews with Elizabeth Edwards and Tanya Snyder, the wife of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Both have been public about their struggles with breast cancer.
Not all breast cancer awareness advocates agree that self-exams are an effective tool. The WJLA segments don't report on that controversy, instead focusing on how to do the exams correctly.
Lord said the issue is personal for him. His mother-in-law died of breast cancer, and his mother had the disease too.
"I have a wife and three daughters," he said. "I want them to see this."
If any of you women need help examining your breasts I want you to know I'll be more than happy to assist!
I think this is a fabuous idea and the station is to be applauded. Your joking aside... many women have caught breast cancer themselves by being aware of subtle changes in their body.
For younger women who do not have mammogram screenings this is the main way that they find breast cancer. I can't tell you the number of older women I've known, who do get regular mammograms who are told nothing is wrong, and find a lump themselves.
When I receive my mammogram results, it's not a clean bill of health, the report says, "no significant abnormalities found at this time." So I just continue to check myself as well.
Now with the publicity about male breast cancer, I've also encouraged my husband to start doing regular breast exams.
Of course you're right and I agree! I find it odd that there is shame to display the human body. At the same time, I wonder if the station isn't taking advantage by bearing breasts during sweeps week.
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