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Online J Knowl Synth Nurs. 2003 May 28;10:2.

Breast cancer risk perception and surveillance: an integrative review.

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  • 1University of Manitoba, Helen Glass Centre for Nursing, Room 312, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2. wfmartin@mb.sympatico.ca



A family history of breast cancer has taken on new meaning with the advancement of genetic technology and the discovery of genes related to breast cancer risk. The purpose of this review is to summarize and synthesize current literature on breast cancer risk perception and mammography screening practices as related to women who have a first-degree relative with breast cancer.


Research has shown that women tend to overestimate their breast cancer risk and that risk counseling fails to have a significant effect. Inconsistent findings exist in relation to the effect of family history on screening behaviors and conflicting evidence in the relationship between risk perception and mammography use.


Inaccurate risk perceptions for high-risk women may be because of the inconsistent messages women are hearing in the media or from health care providers in regard to the efficacy of mammography. Practitioners need to be careful not to assume that a strong family history of breast cancer leads to increased perceived risk, which in turn promotes increased mammography use.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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