Women Don’t Know Their Breast Cancer Risk

Almost all women are unaware of their true breast cancer risk, according to research I recently completed.

Nearly 10,000 responses to a 25-question survey showed that 90.6 percent of women did not accurately assess their breast cancer risk. Knowing the risk of breast cancer can help women seek more effective, timely care.

A majority of African American, Asian and Hispanic survey participants underestimated their risk of getting breast cancer and were less apt to get regular screenings for it. White women tended to overestimate their risk of breast cancer. Approximately 40 percent of participants had not discussed their risk with their doctors.

Whether you have risk factors or not, the American Cancer Society makes these screening recommendations:

  • All women 40 and older should get a yearly screening. Talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often to get them.
  • All women in their 20s and 30s should get a clinical breast exam at least every three years; women 40 and up should get it annually.
  • Breast self exams can help women 20 years old and up notice breast changes more easily. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and limitations of breast self-exams.

Don’t Put It Off

People know their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, but they don’t have an accurate picture of their cancer risk. Women need to become more aware of their breast cancer risk, the need to get tested and to openly discuss this important issue with their physician.

Early detection is critical. For more information about breast cancer and your risk of developing it, contact the Katz Institute for Women’s Health at 855-850-5494.

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