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Relative effectiveness of methods of breast self-examination

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This study investigated the effectiveness of different methods of breast self-examination (BSE) on coverage of breast area and lump detection, using a factorial design, pairing three search patterns (concentric circle, radial spoke, vertical strip) with two finger palpation techniques (small circular movements, sliding movements). Ninety-seven female undergraduates were randomly assigned to one of six BSE training conditions which were identical except in the BSE search pattern and finger palpation technique explained by the instructor. Following the 20-min, small-group training, subjects' coverage of breast area was assessed by scoring their BSE performance on a breast board. Lump detection was determined by the number of lumps correctly identified in silicone breast models. Results indicated that the vertical strip pattern was associated with significantly greater coverage of the breast area. There were no significant differences in lump detection; however, the sliding finger palpation technique resulted in significantly more false identifications of lumps.

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Correspondence to Laura J. Solomon.

Additional information

This research was funded by the Vermont Regional Cancer Center.

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Atkins, E., Solomon, L.J., Worden, J.K. et al. Relative effectiveness of methods of breast self-examination. J Behav Med 14, 357–367 (1991).

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Key words

  • breast self-examination
  • cancer
  • early detection