A review of several studies by researchers at the
Cochrane Collaboration suggests that breast self-exams may be doing more harm
than good among women.
The review also included two large studies involving
nearly 400,000 women in Russia and China. It found that rather than reducing
breast cancer deaths, the emphasis on breast self-exams was actually increasing
the number of unnecessary biopsies and scans.
In women who carried out self-exams, 3,406 had to have
biopsies as compared to 1,856 among women not carrying out the checks.
screening by breast self-examination or physical examination (by a trained
health worker] cannot be recommended," said co-author Jan Peter Kosters,
from the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen. "We suggest that the lack
of supporting evidence...should be discussed with these women to enable them to
make an informed decision."