Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Women overestimate breast cancer risk


Actual 13 percent risk causes relief for women asked to estimate risk

While breast cancer is a significant health threat – striking 211,000 American women each year – a new study finds most women have a distorted view of their risk. When asked to estimate the lifetime risk of breast cancer, 89 percent of women overestimated their risk, with an average estimate of 46 percent – more than three times the actual risk of 13 percent, according to a study by University of Michigan Health System researchers.

"Breast cancer is so commonly in the news, and most of us can think of friends or relatives who have been diagnosed with it. That leads us to overestimate how common it really is. We forget that we know a lot of people with breast cancer because we know a lot of people," says senior study author Peter Ubel, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and director of the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.

Results of the study appear in the June issue of the journal Patient Education and Counseling. In the study, researchers surveyed 356 women. Half the women were asked to estimate the average woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, and half were not asked for an estimate. Both groups then received information on breast cancer risk.

The group that did not estimate risk beforehand was asked whether the 13 percent risk was higher or lower than they had expected. Only 37 percent said the actual risk was lower than they had expected – compared to 89 percent of women in the other group who initially thought the risk was much higher. The researchers then asked women from both groups how anxious or relieved the information made them and whether they thought a 13 percent risk was high or low.

The women who did not give an estimate first were more likely to feel anxious about the breast cancer risk information, 25 percent vs. 12 percent of women who gave an estimate first. At the same time, twice as many women who gave an estimate beforehand said they were relieved by the actual risk, 40 percent vs. 19 percent.

"After estimating that 46 percent of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, when they find out it’s actually 13 percent, that seems relatively low and women feel a sense of relief," says lead study author Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., research investigator in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and with the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The researchers suggest doctors can use these findings to help patients who seem particularly concerned about their risk of breast cancer.

"Doctors need to be in touch with their patients’ needs. If a woman is unduly anxious about her risk of breast cancer, and that anxiety is ruining her life, it might help to ask her what she thinks her chance of breast cancer really is. She is likely to overestimate that risk, and now the doctor will have a chance to tell her the true risk and, potentially, put her mind at ease," says Ubel, a staff physician at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

At the same time, the researchers stress, overestimating the risk does not diminish the importance of prevention strategies, such as yearly mammograms and monthly breast self exams.

Nicole Fawcett | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>