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1 in 5 women don't believe their breast cancer risk
Date:8/15/2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Despite taking a tailored risk assessment tool that factors in family history and personal habits, nearly 20 percent of women did not believe their breast cancer risk, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Most of the women who didn't believe their risk numbers said they did not feel it took into account their family history of cancer or their personal health habits. The tool did ask relevant questions about the individual's family and personal history.

"If people don't believe their risk numbers, it does not allow them to make informed medical decisions," says senior study author Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and a research scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research.

"Women who believe their risk is not high might skip chemoprevention strategies that could significantly reduce their risk. And women who think their risk should be higher could potentially undergo treatments that might not be medically appropriate, which can have long-term ramifications," she adds

The findings, published in Patient Education and Counseling, are part of a larger study looking at how to improve patients' understanding of risk information.

Some 690 women who were at above-average risk of developing breast cancer completed a web-based decision aid that included questions about age, ethnicity, personal history of breast cancer, and number of first-degree relatives who had had breast cancer. The women then were told their five-year risk of developing breast cancer and given information about prevention strategies.

After receiving this information, the women were asked to recall their risk of breast cancer within the next five years. If they answered incorrectly, they were asked why: they forgot, made a rounding error or disagreed with the number. The
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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