Clinical breast examination for asymptomatic women: exploring the evidence

Thistlethwaite, Jill, and Stewart, Rebecca Anne (2007) Clinical breast examination for asymptomatic women: exploring the evidence. Australian Family Physician, 36 (3). pp. 145-149.

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BACKGROUND: Clinical breast examination (CBE) is often offered as a component of the well woman check or carried out at the request of an asymptomatic woman. In these cases the examination is a screening procedure, as opposed to a diagnostic CBE in a symptomatic woman. OBJECTIVE: This article examines the evidence for screening CBE. DISCUSSION: Screening CBE should involve informed consent. A negative examination does not exclude the presence of breast cancer and women should be aware of this. There have been no randomised controlled trials of CBE alone, only trials comparing CBE with mammography for the detection of breast cancer. While there is a low sensitivity (54%) for CBE, the specificity is high (94%). It is unlikely that these figures are discussed with patients. There are different methods of CBE, and these are described in the literature without a firm evidence base as to effectiveness. However, evidence does suggest that practice on models and retraining help improve clinicians' skills.

Item ID: 2797
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: clinical breast examination; asymptomatic women
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Copyright to Australian Family Physician. Reproduced with permission. Permission to reproduce must be sought from the publisher, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners:

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ISSN: 0300-8495
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2009 05:52
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111716 Preventive Medicine @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111717 Primary Health Care @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920203 Diagnostic Methods @ 34%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920412 Preventive Medicine @ 33%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920507 Womens Health @ 33%
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