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Cancer. 1994 Jul 15;74(2):625-31.

The effect of risk on changes in breast cancer screening rates in Los Angeles, 1988-1990.

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UCLA Division of Family Medicine 90024-1683.



Although there have been clear secular trends of increased use of some breast cancer screening modalities, such as mammography, it is less certain that similar trends have occurred among high risk women.


Population-based surveys were conducted in three socioeconomically diverse Los Angeles communities in 1988 and 1990. Trends in breast cancer screening behavior and key determinants of screening were compared separately for women with a family history of breast cancer, a personal history of benign breast disease, and for women without these risks.


In two independent samples drawn in 1988 and 1990, women at a higher risk of breast cancer (positive family history) showed smaller increases in the prevalence of self-reported breast cancer screening than a comparison group of women without a family history of breast cancer or a history of benign breast disease. This was especially true for family-history-positive minority women and women aged 65 years and older, for whom screening actually decreased. In 1990, mammograms for the prior year were reported by only 39% of women with a positive family history, 54% of women with benign breast disease, and 35% of women without these risks. Trends in physicians' office visit discussions of breast cancer screening paralleled trends observed in screening behavior.


Although breast cancer screening increased substantially among lower risk women, rates were unchanged for women at increased risk because of a family history of breast cancer. By identifying and counseling higher risk women, physicians can play an important role in promoting appropriate screening to this group.

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