Breast self-examinations do more harm than good

Breast self-examinations do more harm than good

For years, I’ve said that breast self-examinations are a complete waste of time-and money-for women. And now, as always, the health care industry is belatedly catching up to my way of thinking.

A recent report by the Cochrane Collaboration-an international organization that evaluates medical research-is questioning the usefulness of breast self-exams and has found (like I’ve suspected) that these exams may actually be doing more harm than good.

The study found that the inaccuracy of these exams can put women at risk for invasive and unnecessary treatment. In fact, the women who performed breast self-exams were twice as likely to be subjected to biopsies with benign results.

Right now you’re thinking, “Isn’t it good news to get a negative result from a biopsy when the alternative is being diagnosed with breast cancer?” Well, no especially if that biopsy was unnecessary to begin with. A breast biopsy is an incredibly invasive diagnostic test. The women who are subjected to these tests are often left with significant scarring, breast deformities, and, consequently, emotional wounds. Not to mention the fact that it has the potential to spread the cancer.

In the study, half of the women were taught how to self-examine their breasts, while the other half was not. Of the women who eventually died of breast cancer, 292 had routinely self-examined themselves while 295 did not. Obviously breast self examination offered next to no benefit whatever.

I’m not at all surprised that it played out this way. And if you’re at all familiar with a woman’s breasts, you shouldn’t be surprised either.

Almost all breasts are lumpy because they contain mammary glands. These lumps are what it’s all about (i.e., milk production). To most people (including most doctors), it is very difficult to distinguish between a lump of mammary gland and a lump of cancer. Yes, it is true that cancer is usually harder than normal glandular tissue, but if there is any fibrous tissue present, it is impossible to distinguish between cancer and, well, not cancer.

This creates all sorts of problems. When it’s difficult for a trained medical professional to determine whether or not a lump in a breast is suspect, what chance does a woman have? Especially since her head is already filled with anxiety that anything she feels that’s different could be a death sentence.

Women with lumpy breasts are kept in a constant state of anxiety, discovering new lumps, rushing to the doctor, waiting for the biopsy report, wondering “How much time do I have left? Has it gone to my brain, my bones?” This pathetic drama is repeated hundreds of times every week in communities all over the nation, at great cost and to no purpose.

Billions of dollars are wasted yearly because of women being advised to do an examination they are not qualified to do and that most doctors aren’t qualified to do either.

So then what’s the answer?

First of all, you can forget about doing your own exams. If you’re that worried about breast cancer, consider getting the one test I do recommend. The Anti Malignin Antibody Screen (AMAS) blood test is the best cancer screening test out there.

If you suspect that you have cancer or if you have other risk factors, like family history of the disease, ask your doctor to run an AMAS test. If he refuses, find a doctor who will perform the test. You (or your doctor) can find out everything you need to know about the AMAS test by going online to