An updated Cochrane plain language summary (Nov 4, 2008) on self examination in breast cancer notes the following:
- Self-examination did not result in lower mortality.
- Self-examining were more than twice as likely to have a biopsy than those who did not.
- Comparing patient self-exam v clinical exam – the best study was abandoned due to poor compliance.
- A nuanced concludion by the authors: Breast awareness (of any changes) may have resulted in lower breast cancer mortality in some countries.
I don’t recommend self or clinical examination as a screening procedure as there is no good evidence in two very large trials. To me breast aware rather than breast beware sounds like a more balanced approach to breast disease.