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Little Benefit Adding Breast Exam to Mammography

Exam won't significantly lower breast cancer death risk, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Women gain only a modest benefit in cancer detection by adding clinical breast examination to mammography screening, according to a new study.

"Adding clinical breast examination to screening mammography detected an additional 25 (4 percent) cancers in the study population," researcher Nina Oestreicher, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., said in a prepared statement.

The study of 61,688 women found that clinical breast exam plus mammography detected 82 percent of cancers, mammography alone detected 78 percent of cancers, and clinical breast examination alone detected 21 percent of cancers.

Oestreicher said that, given this modest benefit and studies that suggest clinical breast exams alone do little to reduce breast cancer death, adding a clinical exam to standard mammography screening probably won't lower breast cancer mortality.

Women with dense breasts were most likely to benefit from clinical breast examination, the study found, but they were also more than twice as likely to receive a false positive report -- findings that appear suspicious but turn out to be benign.

The findings appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer screening.

SOURCE: American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, Feb. 2, 2005
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