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Cancer Causes Control. 2008 Dec;19(10):1373-82. doi: 10.1007/s10552-008-9209-7. Epub 2008 Aug 15.

Perceived risk of breast cancer among Latinas attending community clinics: risk comprehension and relationship with mammography adherence.

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Department of Oncology, Cancer Control Program, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 20007, USA,



To describe breast cancer risk perceptions, determine risk comprehension, and evaluate mammography adherence among Latinas.


Latina women age >or=35, primarily from Central and South America, were recruited from community-based clinics to complete in-person interviews (n = 450). Risk comprehension was calculated as the difference between numeric perceived risk and Gail risk score. Based on recommended guidelines from the year data were collected (2002), mammography adherence was defined as having a mammogram every one to two years for women >or=40 years of age.


Breast cancer risk comprehension was low, as 81% of women overestimated their risk and only 6.9% of women were high risk based on Gail risk scores. Greater cancer worry and younger age were significantly associated with greater perceived risk and risk overestimation. Of women age eligible for mammography (n = 328), 29.0% were non-adherent to screening guidelines. Adherence was associated with older age, (OR = 2.99, 95% CI = 1.76-5.09), having insurance (OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.03-3.17), greater acculturation (OR = 1.18, 95% CI = 1.02-1.36), and higher breast cancer knowledge (OR = 2.03, 95% CI = 1.21-3.40).


While most Latinas over-estimated their breast cancer risk, older age, having insurance, being more acculturated, and having greater knowledge were associated with greater screening adherence in this Latino population. Perceived risk, risk comprehension, and cancer worry were not associated with adherence. In Latinas, screening interventions should emphasize knowledge and target education efforts at younger, uninsured, and less acculturated mammography-eligible women.

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