Clinical breast examination in addition to mammography improves breast cancer detection and sensitivity, but also increases false positives. Researchers in Canada compared results for 232,515 women screened at centres offering mammography and clinical breast examination with those for 57,715 women screened at centres offering mammography alone. Sensitivity was about 95 per cent for the initial screen, for women attending centres offering breast examination and mammography, compared with about 89 per cent at centres offering mammography alone. However, the false-positive rate for women without cancer screened with both techniques was about 12 per cent for the initial screen, compared with 7 per cent for those screened using mammography alone.

Chiarelli AM, Majpruz V, Brown P et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 2009;101(18):1236-43

Originally published in the December 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.