To coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Un Survey Illustrates What Women Don't Know about Breast Cancer (dateline October 13, 2007) | Breast Health News | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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Survey Illustrates What Women Don't Know about Breast Cancer (dateline October 13, 2007)

To coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) recently released the results of a survey to determine how informed women are about breast cancer. While over three-fourths of those surveyed considered themselves knowledgeable about breast cancer, according to the NBCC survey, this was often not the case. The results highlight the need for an accurate public dialogue about the disease.

The NBCC survey included responses from 1,004 women over the age of eighteen. According to the NBCC, the following results illustrate that women's beliefs about breast cancer are not always accurate:

  • 56% of women thought breast cancer occurs among women with a family history or a genetic predisposition to the disease. Reality: over two thirds of women diagnosed have no known risk factors. Moreover, only 5% to 10% of breast cancer patients had a genetic predisposition to the disease.
  • 39% of women thought that the most progress has been made in promoting self-exams as an effective means of detecting breast cancer. Reality: While breast self-exams are typically recommended as part of breast cancer screening, women 40 years of age and older are usually recommended to receive annual mammograms, and all women are recommended to receive annual clinical breast exams to help detect the disease in early stages.
  • 78% of women ages 18-24 believed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables plays a significant role in helping to prevent breast cancer. Reality: there is little scientific evidence that such a diet can significantly decrease the incidence of breast cancer.

Other survey findings:

  • Many women, particularly those over 50, though that very limited progress had been made in reducing deaths due to breast cancer.
  • 44% of women over age 50 doubted that researchers would find a way to prevent breast cancer in their lifetimes. However, 86% believed an effective means of prevention will be found in their children's lifetime.
  • Younger women were more interested in preventive strategies, while older women were more interested in treatment advances.
  • 8% of women were aware of government-funded breast cancer research.
  • 80% of women were aware that hormone replacement therapy could increase the risk of breast cancer

"The time has come for consumers to take the next step beyond pink ribbons and products," said NBCC President Fran Visco in an October 1, 2007 news release. "Popular efforts to raise breast cancer awareness lull the public into complacency, into a false sense that adequate progress is being made against this disease. We urge women and men nationwide to join us in our work to improve research, diagnosis and treatment and ultimately end this disease forever."

NBCC believes that breast cancer should be a major issue in the presidential campaign. The organization recently launched the Breast Cancer Caucus. The Caucus calls on presidential candidates to explain to the public their specific approaches to breast cancer research, prevention and care, and outline their plans for universal health care.

"As the Presidential candidates introduce their health care plans, it's absolutely essential that they define specific approaches to breast cancer that can more meaningfully change outcome," said Visco, in the news release.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer) and is the most common cancer among women, excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million people will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year worldwide and over 500,000 will die from the disease.

Additional Resources and References

  • The October 1, 2007, NBCC news release, "National Breast Cancer Coalition Survey Reveals That Heightened Breast Cancer Awareness Has Insufficient Impact on Knowledge/NBCC Calls on Presidential Candidates To Develop Strategies to Address the Most Prevalent Form of Cancer in Women," was published on the NBCC website,
  • To learn more about the NBCC Breast Cancer Caucus, please visit
  • To learn more about breast cancer, please visit