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Breast Cancer, What Science Knows, What Women Think

Full text of report
Background & Methods
Reducing Exposures to Carcinogens
Press Release

Resulting Legislation

An Act Establishing a Breast Cancer Web site


This study compares the state of the science concerning risk factors for breast cancer with women's perceptions of those risks.

Breast cancer is a disease that continues to afflict a growing number of women of all ethnic backgrounds in the United States. According to the latest estimates from the American Cancer Society, breast cancer accounts for one-third of all cancers diagnosed in women. With over 212,000 women in the U.S. projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, it is imperative that medical researchers and public health officials put their energies and resources into the prevention and cure of this disease.

Limited information exists about how different ethnic groups view their risks for getting breast cancer. Science does not yet have full insight about the causes of this devastating disease in any individual, but it can provide in-depth information about a number of known, as well as suspected, risk and protective factors. Currently, a significant disconnect exists between what the public believes about the causes of breast cancer and what the state of the science actually says about the many known risk factors and their relative impact on this disease. In order to better understand what various ethnic groups know about their risks, as well as prevention strategies for breast cancer, this study includes a survey instrument that was designed to answer some of these questions. The survey over-sampled the African-American and Hispanic populations in order to obtain an accurate representation of their respective opinions. This report compares the responses of participants to the state of the science on different issues in question.

The purpose of this project is to uncover the information gaps among the various ethnic groups with respect to the risk factors and prevention strategies for breast cancer and to propose strategies to fill those gaps. A public armed with more complete information will provide women of all ethnic backgrounds a better chance for improving their breast cancer outcomes.

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