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publicado em 04/10/2013 às 11h21:00
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Many women don't believe their breast cancer risk numbers

Women's skepticism about risks leads some to put off preventive medicine, while others may undergo unnecessary treatments

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Telling patients how likely they are to develop breast cancer within the next five years might not be enough to ensure that women make informed decisions related to that risk, a recent study said.

Nineteen percent of women who completed a breast cancer risk assessment survey didn't believe their calculated five-year risk. They also did not believe estimates on how much their cancer risk would be reduced by taking the chemoprevention drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene, according to the study in the August issue of Patient Education and Counseling.

"If people don't believe their risk numbers, it does not allow them to make informed medical decisions," said senior study author Angela Fagerlin, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. "Women who believe their risk is not high might skip chemoprevention strategies that could significantly reduce their risk. And women who think their risk should be higher could potentially undergo treatments that might not be medically appropriate."

To help alleviate that problem, physicians should take a few extra minutes to explain to patients what factors were used to estimate their likelihood of developing cancer and why other information wasn't included in the assessment, said Laura D. Scherer, PhD, first study author.

Patients "might need more guidance than throwing a number out there and saying, 'It's personalized,'?" said Scherer, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri.

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in 2013, and about 39,620 women will die of the disease, the society said.

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