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Cancer Detect Prev. 1996;20(1):76-85.

Perceived risk, anxiety, mammogram uptake, and breast self-examination of women with a family history of breast cancer: the role of knowing to be at increased risk.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.


Since women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer are at increased risk for breast cancer, it is of special importance that they adhere to early detection programs. In this study, women with (389) and without (3295) a family history of breast cancer were compared with respect to risk perception, breast cancer anxiety, and early detection behavior. Special attention was paid to the role of knowing that family history is a breast cancer risk factor. It was found that 46% of "family history positives" did not know that their risk was increased by their family history. Still, family history positives had increased risk perception; our results suggest that this was partly caused by their knowing they belonged to a risk group and partly by their having experienced the disease at close range. Although family history positives had higher risk perceptions, no differences in early detection behavior were found. This could not be attributed to high anxiety levels. Implications for health education are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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