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Why Some Women Ignore Their Breast Cancer Risk

Joelle Reizes - October 23, 2013



Breast Cancer Risk

Many of us know someone who had or has breast cancer. This disease is both fairly common and well-publicized, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. As such, research and information on the condition are widely accessible. The risk factors are well-known and testing is readily available.

Regardless of all of this, many women with multiple risk factors end of ignoring or not believing the results of their testing. Some think that their risk is too low, while others ignore the more obvious signs of trouble ahead. Why?

According to the American Cancer Society, the risk factors of breast cancer include:

  • Gender (women have a higher risk)
  • 55 years or older
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Race and ethnicity
  • History of other breast conditions

In August 2013, the journal Patient Education and Counseling published the results of a study describing differences in the way women perceive their risk of developing breast cancer. In this study, 690 women used an online program to learn about medications that may help reduce their risk of contracting breast cancer. As part of the program, each woman received a tailored assessment identifying her personal breast cancer risk.

Researchers told half of the women how this risk was tallied. At the conclusion of the study, all participants were asked what they thought of the results. Nearly 20 percent said that they did not believe the assessment of their risk. They felt the test did not take all concerns, such as personal and family history, into account.

While the study’s authors believe that some patients may reject the results of testing as part of a natural skepticism, they still argue that screening is important. Assessing risk of breast cancer or the likelihood of developing other diseases, such as the preventive health screenings offered by Life Line Screening, can still be useful. This study shows that many patients may be more likely to accept a company’s assessment if they feel that their specific history has been taken into consideration.

Many women want to know the chances they will develop breast cancer, since it is such a serious condition. But when women are assessing their risk of contracting the disease, testing should be as complete as possible to ensure that they take the results seriously. Furthermore, preventive medicine only works if we take into consideration our risk factors for certain diseases. Being proactive with health is crucial to obtaining peace of mind or the knowledge needed to stop a catastrophic health problem before it gets worse.

 




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About the Author

Joelle Reizes

I am the Communications Director at Life Line Screening with more than 15 years of experience in the field of health communications, much of it specifically working with health screening programs. Read More.

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