1. Health
Trisha Torrey

Women - Don't Do Those Breast Self-Exams! (Are You Kidding?)

By July 16, 2008

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Did you hear? Those breast self-exams don't work!

Honestly, this is one of those times when I have trouble buying in to "evidence based" medicine. I have to wonder if there isn't some kind of conspiracy backing this one up.

The results of a recently released study said that monthly breast exams don't save more lives, and may be doing women more harm than good. Almost 400,000 women participated in this study. For those who did the exams and found lumps, twice as many biopsies were done that were negative -- meaning -- they didn't have cancer.

So now, let's do the math. If two women ("twice as many") do self-exams, and find lumps, and both are biopsied, and one is cancerous and gets treatment -- then why isn't that a success? Why is that considered ineffective? One woman's life may have been extended or even saved!

OK -- granted -- a biopsy is an invasion of the body, and yes, there can be problems from a biopsy. But, in my (not so) humble opinion, if someone -- anyone -- male or female -- finds a lump anywhere and is concerned, then the peace of mind alone is worth the biopsy. And if something invasive and dangerous is caught? So much the better -- that person will get treatment.

My friend Linda Lowen, an ovarian cancer survivor who is, therefore, at greater risk for breast cancer, explains it quite well. Take a look at her point of view.

The conclusions from the study were that there was no significant decrease in the number of deaths in the group almost 400,000 women who participated in the study. Therefore, monthly self-exams are no longer considered important.

Yeah -- unless you're one of the ones who found a lump, had it biopsied and learned you did or didn't have cancer. Your results were either peace of mind, or a longer life. Believe me. I know this first hand.

Now tell me again why they monthly self-exams aren't important?

(And if you are like me, and still believe a breast self-exam is important, then take a moment to learn how to do one correctly from our About.com Guide to Breast Cancer.)
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