Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women. Breast self-examination originally was proposed and implemented under the assumption that it would increase early detection and, theoretically, improve survival. However, breast self-examination since has been proven to have no effect on mortality from breast cancer. Rather than being abandoned, breast self-examination has been repackaged into the new concept of breast self-awareness. Although the desire to empower women with self-detection of cancer is noble, teaching techniques that have been proven not to be effective likely causes more harm than good.
The campaign of “breast self-awareness” places an unfair burden of guilt on patients by ignoring the evidence regarding the harms of breast self-examination.
Department of Obstetrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
Corresponding author: Katrina Mark, MD, Department of Obstetrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 11 S Paca Street, Suite 400, Baltimore, MD 21201; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.