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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Breast Cancer

Question: Isn't it standard to have a chaperone for a breast exam?

 lela - Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:47 pm

I thought male practitioners were to have a chaperone during sensitive exams? Should I be concerned that my male oncologist did a breast exam without anyone else in the room?

At first, I didn't think anything of it, he seemed quite professional, but the exam was very intense and much more involved and aggressive than I am used to. Again, I dismissed it, thinking that he's just doing a very thorough job since there was actually a problem (I have some sort of fibroid cyst). In fact, I would have walked away without any misgivings, just thinking that he was more thorough than my other doctors, and that's a good thing, yes?

But then, just before I left, I asked if he was sure this was not at all related to my lupus diagnosis, and he assured me that it wasn't, while reaching out and touching my cheek. I thought that was creepy -- it's an intimate, romantic sort of a touch, and would have been disturbed by it had anyone else done it that wasn't a romantic interest. If he had touched my shoulder, for instance, I would have been reassured rather than uncomfortable.

After that, I felt less comfortable about the rest of it and the more I think about it, the less comfortable I feel about going back in 6 weeks. I don't want to be unfair to him by overreacting, and I feel perhaps I'm not a good judge of this sort of thing because I do have a history of childhood sexual abuse and therefore may be overly sensitive to they way people touch me.

My sister said it was just creepy, and advised me to bring along my own chaperone if I was in doubt at all, but there is no one who can go with me, since I have to drive quite far and the whole ordeal takes up half the day.

Should he have a chaperone/assistant in the room, and am I overreacting to the rest of it?

Thanks for your help!
 Theresa Jones, RN - Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:41 am

User avatar Hi Lela,
Some people and physicians are quite comfortable with or without a chaperone or assistant in a room during an examination. Generally speaking when physicians examine patients they do have an assistant especially when the opposite gender is examined to avoid any misgivings. I do understand how touching your cheek verses your shoulder would make you feel very uncomfortable and although it could have been innocent it is unusual. I would certainly suggest that you have someone accompany you on your visit. If this is not possible for that particular day then rearrange your schedule for when it is possible. I hope this is somewhat helpful.
Theresa Jones, RN

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