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Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
Date:4/30/2009

Instruction and encouragement take the worry away, researcher says

THURSDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Women were 10 times more likely to do breast self-examinations if they took part in an brief intervention program that included one counseling session and two follow-up phone calls, a U.S. study has found.

The research involved more than 600 women, ages 40 to 70, who'd had a negative mammogram screening in the previous two months. They were given either dietary counseling with no mention of breast self-exams or a 30- to 45-minute counseling session about breast self-exam that included an educational video, practicing self-exam on a silicone model and a discussion of possible barriers to doing self-exams. This group also received follow-up phone calls one and two months later.

Before the study began, about 6 percent of the participants were doing at least five-minute self-exams every month using proper techniques.

A year later, 59 percent of the women in the self-exam counseling group were performing adequate self-exams, compared with 12 percent of those in the dietary counseling group.

"Many women avoid breast self-exams, because they are worried about doing them correctly," the study's lead author, Nangel Lindberg, an investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., said in a Kaiser news release. "However, our study showed that with a relatively simple intervention, women can learn the proper technique. And once they feel confident, they will continue to do their exams."

Self-exams are one way for women "to participate in their own health care," Lindberg said. "Self-exams allow women to become familiar with their breasts, so they can report any changes to their health-care providers."

The study is in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Early detection is an important factor in the success of breast cancer treatment. Each
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