November 2002
Article Features
  Older Breast Cancer Patients Able to Tolerate Aggressive Treatment
Developing a Blood Test for Breast Cancer
Surgery vs. Surveillance for Inherited Breast and Ovarian Cancers
Less-Invasive Biopsy to Detect Breast Cancer Metastasis
Emotional Well-Being in Breast Cancer Patients Who Make Treatment Choices
Exercise Could Help Ward Off Cancer
Twin Genetic Signals May Hold Key to Breast Cancer
New Study Confirms No Benefit to High-Dose Chemo
New Study Promises Safer Hormone Replacement Therapy
Providing Sufficient Information to Cancer Patients
Lumpectomy Without Nodal Biopsy Linked to Poorer Survival in Older Women
New Breast Cancer Gene Discovered
Stigma of Breast Cancer in Developing Countries Costs Lives
New Radiotherapy Technique for Breast Cancer
Study Finds California Teachers at Higher Cancer Risk
New Technique May Detect Breast Cancer and Define Prognosis Without Surgery

Complementry Articles
Fish Fat Found to Kill Cancer Cells
Task Force Issues Caution on Combined Hormone Therapy
Microwave Heat to Treat Breast Cancer
Obesity and Breast Cancer Risk

Controversy over Breast Self Exams

Teaching women breast self-examination (BSE) does not appear to decrease the number of deaths from breast cancer, according to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. However, intensive teaching of BSE was found to increase the rate of benign breast biopsies, potentially adding to health care costs without benefits.

Evidence from non-randomized observational studies had not been consistent. Given such evidence, the U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force currently does not recommend for or against the teaching of BSE.

To address this issue directly, David B. Thomas, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and his colleagues randomly assigned 266,064 female factory workers in Shanghai to either a BSE instruction group or a control group. Women in the BSE group were taught how to perform BSE and participated in reinforcement sessions 1 and 3 years later. The women also received regular reminders to practice BSE monthly and practiced BSE under medical supervision every 6 months for 5 years. The control group received no information on breast cancer screening.

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