advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Should I Examine My Breasts?
I was disturbed by the news that breast self-exams don't save lives. Examining myself always makes me nervous. Should I stop?
A
Answer (Published 10/29/2002)

You're referring to the findings of a very large study in China, which showed that breast self-examinations don't reduce deaths from breast cancer. The study was conducted in Shanghai from 1989 to 2000 by a team that included researchers from China and Norway, as well as from Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Women's Health - Women's health issues such as menopause, PMS and menstruation can often be effectively addressed through lifestyle, diet, and prudent nutritional supplementation. Learn more - get your free, personalized vitamin recommendation today, at Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor.

More than 266,000 women participated. Half were taught how to do breast self-exams and were monitored regularly; the other half received only routine medical care. After 10 years, results showed no fewer breast cancer deaths among those who did self-exams.

The Shanghai study wasn't the first to cast doubt on the assumption that breast self-exams save lives. Another large trial, conducted in St. Petersburg, Russia, followed 122,471 women between the ages of 40 and 64, half of whom were taught to do self-exams. After five years, almost half the women in the self-exam group had stopped checking their breasts. After nine years, both groups had the same rate of breast cancer deaths.

Breast self-exams have another downside: the women in both studies who did self-exams had higher rates of benign breast biopsies than those who didn't.

Despite these discouraging findings, many experts in this country still encourage women to examine their breasts once a month. As you may know, mammography, the other method we have to detect breast cancer, is also flawed. It misses up to 30 percent of breast cancers and may not even show lumps women can feel.

You may not find a tiny cancer by examining your breasts but knowing how they normally feel enables you to recognize changes that might be significant. The tools we have for diagnosing early breast cancer are imperfect, but until something better comes along, it makes sense to take advantage of them all: breast self-exam, an annual breast exam by your physician and regular mammograms.

Dr. Andrew Weil

 

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here