Breast Cancer Self-exams Not So Useful After All

by Rajashri on Jul 16 2008 1:54 PM

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.

"At present, 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."