Perception of Breast Cancer Risk in Over 11,000 Patients During Routine Mammography Exam

Publication Date


Journal Title

J Cancer Educ


© 2019, American Association for Cancer Education. To assess women’s knowledge of personal breast cancer risk. Additionally, we aimed to determine how often physicians are discussing individualized risk assessments of breast cancer with their patients, and if those discussion affected risk perception. Surveys were distributed in radiology centers in New York and made available to patients presenting for routine mammography. As exact number of patients who viewed the survey is unknown, response rate could not be assessed. Data from the survey was used to calculate each patient’s personal breast cancer risk using the National Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. Each patient’s actual breast cancer risk was compared to her perceived risk. 15,006 subjects submitted the survey and 11,365 were included in the final analysis. Fourteen percent of women were accurate in their 5-year estimation as compared to calculated risk, and only 7% of respondents were accurate in their estimation of risk by 90 years of age. There was no association between time since discussion of breast cancer risk and accuracy of estimating personal breast cancer risk (p = 0.17). There was no difference in risk estimation accuracy between women who had ever or had never discussed risk with her physician (p = 0.1064). Patients’ perceived personal risk of developing breast cancer does not match the Gail model calculated risk. These findings hold true whether or not her physician had discussed personal breast cancer risk with her in the past. Further studies should determine effective strategies to educate patients about their breast cancer risk.

Document Type



Faculty; Northwell Resident


School of Medicine; Northwell Health

Primary Department

Obstetrics and Gynecology





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