Jen Eaton, MD, was a textbook example of a woman at low risk for breast cancer. At almost 43 years old, she did high-intensity workouts five days a week, all her screening mammograms had been normal, and she did not have a strong family history of the disease. “I was in the best shape of my life,” she says.
So in May 2020, when Eaton happened to feel a lump in her right breast, she told herself it was probably nothing. As a fertility doctor and Medical Director of Assisted Reproductive Technology at Duke Fertility Center, she was well aware of the data -- most lumps aren’t cancer, and breast self-exams aren’t routinely recommended because the data suggest that they don’t improve survival outcomes.
But her concerns lingered. So she called her own ob-gyn, Louise Highley, MD, MSPH. “I was embarrassed to tell Dr. Highley that I had a lump because I felt that it was silly,” Eaton says. “But she took it seriously. Had it not been for that, I might have waited another six months to a year. Her willingness to pay attention to my concern saved my life.”