The impact of family history of breast cancer and cancer death on women's mammography practices and beliefs

Genet Med. 2008 Aug;10(8):621-5. doi: 10.1097/gim.0b013e31817c0355.


Purpose: To summarize the impact of a family history of breast cancer on mammography practices and beliefs.

Method: Survey data concerning breast health practices and beliefs were utilized for a cross-sectional analysis. Participants were 899 racially diverse nonpregnant women 40 years and older without breast cancer. The impact of various aspects of cancer family history on mammography, perceived barriers to and benefits of screening, and perceived breast cancer risk was assessed.

Results: More women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer reported a mammogram within the past year and rated their breast cancer risk higher. Death of a first-degree relative impacted the belief that breast cancer can be cured with early detection. Degree of relatedness of affected relative impacted mammography practice and risk perceptions.

Conclusion: Family history of breast cancer impacted mammography adherence, beliefs about outcomes with early detection, and risk perceptions. Breast cancer death in a family may be a better predictor of beliefs about breast cancer detection and cure than family history of cancer alone. These findings have implications for how screening recommendations and risk information are communicated to patients with different familial cancer experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mammography / psychology*
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*