Rabu, 25 November 2009

Breast Self Examination

Women; have you been feeling guilty because you haven’t been doing regular breast self-examinations to make sure you aren't developing breast cancer? Well, here’s good news for you. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which makes recommendations about preventive care services for people who do not yet have any signs or symptoms of disease, is now recommending against breast self-examination (BSE) as a way to detect breast cancer. (The USPSTF’s previous position on the usefulness of BSE was “insufficient evidence” either for or against).

The USPSTF systematically reviews of the benefits and harms of a preventive care services, and then tries to come up with a net assessment. In the case of BSE, the USPSTF reviewed the latest published data and concluded that; a) regular BSE does not lower the mortality rate from breast cancer, and b) women who perform BSE tend to have more imaging procedures and biopsies than women who don’t. These procedures are expensive and are themselves associated with minor health risks, such as infection and increased exposure to radiation. Overall, the net risk/benefit ratio for BSE is on the side of net risk.

The recommendation against BSE is only for women who are not at increased risk for breast cancer. Women who are at increased risk should consult their physician.

Reference: U.S. Preventive Task Force. Screening for Breast Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann. Int. Med. 151:716-726, 2009.

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