Scottish Cancer Prevention Network

Most Women Wrongly Estimate Their Risk for Breast Cancer


Nov 13

Breast cancer is often in the news, however, a large American survey of middle aged women found that only 10% of women accurately assessed their life-time risk of contracting the disease. Of the remainder half overestimated and half underestimated their risk. This finding has implications for women’s lives with some worrying unnecessarily, however, of more concern is that some women may not be attending for screening or seeking treatment as they underestimate the likelihood of breast cancer affecting them.


There appeared to be a socio-economic influence also as white women tended to overestimate their risk and women from ethnic minorities tended to underestimate their risk. Education is required for women to be able to accurately assess their risk which will be most useful to those women who are unaware they are at high risk.

Herman J. 2013 Breast Cancer Symposium: Abstract 4. Presented September 7, 2103