Breast Cancer Risk: Perception vs. Reality
Study: Nearly 90% of Women Overestimate Breast Cancer Risk
WebMD News Archive
Numbers Don't Give Context continued...
Many also wrongly believed women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to be
diagnosed with breast cancer than older women.
Only about 18% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women in their 40s, while
about 77% of women with breast cancer are older than 50 when they are
diagnosed, according to ACS figures.
Researcher Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, says cancer awareness campaigns often scare
people with numbers that highlight the magnitude of cancer risk but provide
Schwartz and colleagues with Dartmouth Medical School's VA Outcomes Group
created a series of cancer risk-assessment charts to help people understand
their true risk of dying from the disease.
While it is true that 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year, the
risk of dying in your 40s and even 50s remains quite small, she notes. A
40-year-old woman who has never smoked, for example, has a 0.2% chance of dying
from breast cancer before she is 50, and her risk will be less than 1% until
she reaches age 70.