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Self-exam guidance; In association with the NHS.

SELF-EXAMINATION does little to reduce breast cancer deaths, scientists have claimed.

Under medical guidance women are advised to be "breast-aware" by familiarising themselves with how they feel so they notice any changes.

But a review of studies of more than 380,000 women concluded there is no evidence that self examinations reduce deaths.

The practice may even be doing more harm than good, according to the scientists, who found it led to almost twice as many biopsies that turned up no cancer in women who performed the self-exams than for 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," said Jan Peter Kosters and Peter Gotzsche, from the Copenhagen-based Nordic Cochrane Centre.

The authors did not go as far as telling people to stop checking their breasts. Dr Kosters said women should always seek medical advice if they detect any change in their breasts that might be breast cancer.

"We suggest the lack of supporting evidence should be discussed with women to enable them to make an informed decision," he added.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 21, 2008
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