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Br J Cancer. 2010 Aug 10;103(4):454-61. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605809. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

Awareness of ovarian cancer risk factors, beliefs and attitudes towards screening: baseline survey of 21,715 women participating in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening.

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CRUK Psychosocial Oncology Group, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Falmer BN1 9QG, UK.



Women's awareness of ovarian cancer (OC) risks, their attitudes towards and beliefs about screening, together with misunderstandings or gaps in knowledge, may influence screening uptake.


In total, 21 715 post-menopausal women completed questionnaires before randomisation into the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening.


In all, 42.3% correctly identified their lifetime risk of OC; 87.1% knew that a family history of OC increased risk, but only 26.7% appreciated the association with a family history of breast cancer. Although 38.2% acknowledged increased risk post-menopause, only 8.8% were aware that OC diagnoses are highest in women over 65 years. Few (13.7%) recognised the association between pregnancy and reduced OC risk or protective effects of breastfeeding (6.2%). There were common misconceptions; 37.2% thought that an abnormal cervical smear and 26.4% that oral contraception increased the likelihood of OC. Although 84.4% recognised that most ovarian masses are benign, 20.2% thought having had a benign cyst increased OC risk. Most (99.4%) believed that a high uptake of OC screening would reduce mortality and (96.2%) that screen-detected cancers would have an improved prognosis.


The results show a need for improved public understanding about OC risks and provide important information for GPs and health educationalists about initiatives needed for future awareness, prevention and screening programmes.

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