A study in the April 8, 1996 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine adds to mounting evidence that women get more complete breast cancer screenings from women doctors than from men. The study suggests that women getting mammograms are less likely to get an additional physical breast exam from male doctors. According to Dr. Karen Freund of Boston University Medical Center Hospital, “mammography is not foolproof” and studies show the addition of a physical exam can increase cancer detection by 10 percent.
While 95 percent of women received complete exams from female doctors, only 67 percent did from male doctors. Similar findings from other studies show that patients of male doctors also get fewer Pap smears and mammograms. As for breast exams, American Cancer Society spokesperson Joann Shellenbach says that physical exams are important for detecting breast cancer early, and the exams should take several minutes and be done with the woman in several different positions.