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As many as 1 in 5 women don’t believe their breast cancer risk

19 Aug 2013

Despite taking a tailored risk assessment tool that factors in family history and personal habits, nearly 20 percent of women did not believe their breast cancer risk, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Most of the women who didn’t believe their risk numbers said they did not feel it took into account their family history of cancer or their personal health habits. The tool did ask relevant questions about the individual’s family and personal history.

“If people don’t believe their risk numbers, it does not allow them to make informed medical decisions,” says senior study author Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and a research scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research.

“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, which can have long-term ramifications,” she adds

The findings, published in Patient Education and Counseling, are part of a larger study looking at how to improve patients’ understanding of risk information.

Some 690 women who were at above-average risk of developing breast cancer completed a web-based decision aid that included questions about age, ethnicity, personal history of breast cancer, and number of first-degree relatives who had had breast cancer. The women then were told their five-year risk of developing breast cancer and given information about prevention strategies.

After receiving this information, the women were asked to recall their risk of breast cancer within the next five years. If they answered incorrectly, they were asked why: they forgot, made a rounding error or disagreed with the number. The researchers found that 22 percent of women who misreported their risk said they disagreed with the numbers.

The most common reason women said they disagreed with their risk was that their family history made them either more or less likely to develop breast cancer. Many believed that because an aunt or father had cancer, it increased their risk. Only first-degree female relatives – mother, sister, daughter – impact a person’s breast cancer risk. Others felt a lack of family history meant their cancer risk should be very low.

One-third of women cited a gut instinct that their risk numbers just seemed too high or too low.

“We’ve put so much fear in people about breast cancer so they feel at high risk,” says lead study author Laura D. Scherer, Ph.D. “We found that many women assumed certain factors should impact their risk, like cancer history in distant or male relatives, but those factors don’t put a woman at increased risk.

“We have a trend toward personalized medicine and individualized medicine, but if people don’t believe their personalized risk numbers, they’re not going to get the best medical care for them,” says Scherer, who is now at the University of Missouri. She completed the research while at the University of Michigan.

Breast cancer statistics: 234,580 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,030 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society



Belief in numbers: When and why women disbelieve tailored breast cancer risk statistics, doi:10.1016/j.pec.2013.03.016

Additional authors: Peter A. Ubel, Duke University; Jennifer McClure, Group Health Research Institute; Sharon Hensley Alford, Henry Ford Health System; Lisa Holtzman, University of Michigan; Nicole Exe, University of Michigan

Patient Education and Counseling, Vol. 92, No. 2, pp. 253-259, August 2013

University of Michigan Health System



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Leslie Haywood Joins “La Bubé Athletica” As Brand Model


Atlanta, GA – Breast Chek, Inc., inventors of the patented Breast Chek Kit Shirt for teaching breast self-examination, recently announced the launch of an innovative, new active wear line targeting women who have had mastectomies.

The La Bubé Athletica line incorporates special technical features and fabrics specifically to address the post-surgical needs of women as they move toward exercise and the rehabilitation process. The stylish workout and lifestyle wear is for all women and shows support for those who are battling breast cancer as well as those who have survived.

While other mastectomy manufacturers have produced functional intimate wear such as bras, camisoles and swimsuits, with built-in pockets, La Bubé Athletica is the first to offer active wear with hidden pockets for prosthetics or breast enhancers.

The line includes functional classic tanks, racer back tops, camisoles, and jackets, with matching hoodies, pants, vests and accessories to complement the collection.

According to Linda Lewis, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Breast Chek Kit, Inc., “the workout wear will fill a void in the market. La Bubé Athletica is a unique lifestyle line that will appeal to women who were active and stylish before their surgery and who fully intend to remain active afterwards. The line is so stylish that every woman, who enjoys wearing beautiful active wear as they run errands, travel, and shop, will want to wear La Bubé Athletica for its amazing function, style and unparalleled comfort.  When choosing an ambassador and model for the collection, we wanted a person that represented the true embodiment of the brand, a woman with fierce tenacity, strength, an audacity to endure the journey but yet remain humble. Leslie Wombwell Haywood, a  friend and fellow breast cancer survivor who had endured a bilateral mastectomy and 2 reconstructive procedures in 2006 fit perfectly.  As a wife, mother, and the inventor of Grill Charms,  Keychains for a Cure,  a competitor on ABC’s  Shark Tank, exercise enthusiast and so much more, Leslie was simply a natural.  Her zeal for living life in the moment with her contagious laugh and constant smile shows her strength of purpose to Trust The Journey in all she does”.

A portion of all proceeds of The Beast Chek Kit La Bubé AthleticaGrill Charms Pink Collection, and Keychains for a Cure go toward breast cancer education and research.

For more information about La Bubé Athletica, go to: Media inquiries may contact Retailers and Buyer inquiries or to schedule an appointment may be addressed to:


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