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Review: limited evidence on regular breast examination does not support its effectiveness for reducing breast cancer deaths

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 QUESTION: Does screening for breast cancer by regular self examination or clinical examination (or both) reduce the incidence of breast cancer and death?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline and the Cochrane Library (October 2002), reference lists, and the specialised register of the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group.

Study selection

Randomised controlled trials were included if they evaluated regular clinical or self breast examination in women with no diagnosis of breast cancer.

Data extraction

Data were extracted on patient characteristics, type of breast self examination, and outcomes (mortality from breast cancer, total mortality, cancers identified, and biopsies with benign results).

Main results

2 studies (388 535 women) that compared self breast examination with no examination were included. 1 study from St Petersburg, Russia followed 122 471 women (40–64 y) for 10–15 years. 1 study from Shanghai, China followed 266 064 women (30–66 y) for 10 years. Results were pooled …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • A modified version of this abstract appears in Evidence-Based Nursing.

  • For correspondence: Dr J P Kösters, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark. mbx59852{at}