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Am J Public Health. 1991 Sep;81(9):1174-9.

Breast cancer screening among relatives of women with breast cancer.

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Epidemiology Program Office, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.



National surveys indicate that only 15% to 30% of all women in the general population 50 years of age or older have an annual mammogram.


We studied first-degree female relatives of women with breast cancer, who are at elevated risk of disease, to describe the breast cancer screening practices of these relatives and to improve their practices through a program of intensive education. We report here the screening behaviors of 2471 relatives of women with breast cancer.


Self-reported behaviors were as follows: 49% performed monthly breast self-examination and 70% had annual breast examinations by a medical professional. Of 983 women 50 years of age or older, 49% had had a mammogram, but only 14% have a mammogram annually. Of women 50 years of age or older who had never had a mammogram, 92% reported never having had one recommended by a medical professional.


Our findings indicate that screening behaviors in relatives of breast cancer patients are not substantially different from those of women in the general population. Enhanced efforts both to educate medical professionals and to encourage women to demand screening mammography are necessary to reduce breast cancer mortality.

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