Perception of risk, anxiety, and health behaviors in women at high risk for breast cancer
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Perception of risk, anxiety, psychological distress, and early detection behavior were investigated in 23 women with a family history of breast cancer who attended genetic counseling and 21 women without a family history of breast cancer. In addition to a breast cancer-specific questionnaire, the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were used. Thirty-nine percent of the women with a family history of breast cancer correctly identified and 48% overestimated their own lifetime risk. Risk perception was independent of genetic counseling. Levels of general psychological morbidity were similar between women with a family history of breast cancer and controls. For controls, early detection behavior was related to lifetime risk estimate and was, in general, independent of level of anxiety. Despite genetic counseling, many women continued to perceive their own lifetime risk of breast cancer inaccurately. They might benefit from additional counseling on risk assessment.
Key wordsbreast cancer genetic risk risk perception early detection behavior psychological distress
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