Self-Examination of Breasts does not Help, Instead Increases Chances of Benign Biopsies

BreastsA check 'em Tuesday' campaign by the Sun newspaper in the UK asks women to do self examination of their breasts to cut the risk of suffering from breast cancer in future. The weekly call even asks readers to send their photos to ensure they are in compliance and can also receive text message reminder by singing up.

The weekly call may appear as a concern for their health, but as a matter of fact, it does not help and is even more likely to cause problems, said Glasgow general practitioner Margaret McCartney in BMJ.

McCartney affirmed that encouraging women to examine their breasts regularly has not helped in reducing number of deaths attributable to breast cancer. Instead, it only increases the chances of benign biopsies.

She argues that it is not right to disguise women by saying that regular self examination of their breasts will ensure early detection of breast cancer, as it highly likely to instill anxiety and other potential harms.

She said that this is one of the bigger moves to promote untested breast awareness. For example, the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer asks women to touch, look, feel regularly to find any of five signs of breast cancer. On the other hand, NHS Choices suggests its own way to women to figure out any risk of breast cancer, recommending that examining breasts at different times of the month while taking a shower to lists nine changes that may occur on the breast by looking and groping.

The charity CoppaFeel is another one to unnecessarily encourage women to offer test messages to women as a reminder to women to remain regularly involved in self examination of their breasts.

"If we fail to critically evaluate campaigns on cancer, we create the appearance of doing something useful while potentially distracting from what might really help. In doing so we potentially harm the very women we're purporting to help", said Dr. McCartney.