As a family practice physician, I am appalled at the article printed April 24 on the "worthlessness" of breast self-examination ("New Task Force Questions Value of Breast Self Exams" by Allan Parachini). Any physician or layman who has had any personal experience with this devastating disease can attest to the fact that many of these tumors have been detected by simple palpation.
Mammograms are not infallible, and there are many false negative reports read by professional radiologists. I have personally attended a patient in my practice who found a mass on breast self-examination, subsequently had a mammogram read as non-significant, and upon my recommendation underwent surgery. Excision of the mass revealed it to be a breast carcinoma. I will continue to instruct all my female patients on techniques of breast self-examination and to report to me any suspicious lesions.
I do order mammograms as recommended by the guidelines set forth by the American Cancer Society, but to rely solely on this type of testing would be very expensive, impractical and dangerous. Publishing articles with negativism on breast self-examination is very misleading and can seriously jeopardize public health. You are confusing people who have been told for many years that they can help prevent and detect this devastating disease by a simple breast examination that they can do at home.
DR. BENJAMIN L. KONELL