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Home Industry News Breast awareness recommended over examinations

Breast awareness recommended over examinations

16th July 2008

Being ‘breast aware’ should be sufficient to help identify any potential problems and complex monthly examinations are not necessary, it has been advised.

The charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said breast awareness – women knowing what their breasts look and feel like normally – together with breast screening and improved treatment are helping to improve survival from breast cancer.

Its comments follow a study published today by the Cochrane Library which concluded that there is no evidence self-exams reduce breast cancer deaths.

These checks are widely practiced in the United States and follow a strict routine, while in the UK women are advised to simply be breast aware.

Rather than helping to detect cancer, the researchers found that the practice may be doing more harm than good, since it led to almost twice as many biopsies that turned up no cancer in women who performed the self-exams, compared to women who did not do the exams.

“At present, screening by breast self-examination or physical examination [by a trained health worker] cannot be recommended,” Dr Jan Peter Kosters and Dr Peter Gotzsche conclude in the review.

Commenting on the study, Dr Sarah Cant, policy manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Breast self examination is a strict and complicated routine that women are taught in order to check their breasts.

“It is not advocated by breast cancer charities in the UK or the Department of Health, who recommend that women just need to be breast aware.

“Being breast aware does not mean following a fancy routine – you just need to know what your breasts look and feel like normally in any way you feel comfortable. If you notice any unusual changes or have any worries, check them out with your GP.”

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