WOMEN UNSATISIFIED WITH BODY AND BREASTS, LESS LIKELY TO COMPLY WITH SCREENINGS, INCLUDING MAMMOGRAPHY
The National Women's Health Resource Center's Breast Cancer Study Also Shows 82% of Women Do Not Know the #1 Risk Factor for Breast Cancer
Red Bank, NJ /PRNewswire/ — According to a new study by the not-for-profit National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC), the nation's leading source for women's health information, women who are dissatisfied with their overall physical appearance are significantly less likely to be up to date with preventive screenings, such as mammography and breast self-exam.
The national survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, as part of the NWHRC's new Learn.Love.Commit. breast cancer awareness campaign, finds that women who feel good about their overall physical appearance are more likely to have had mammograms (68% versus 59%) or Pap smears (78% versus 61%) than women who are unsatisfied with their overall physical appearance.
"Making the connection between self-esteem and preventive care is a big step to helping women understand that if they love themselves on the outside, they are more likely to take better care of themselves on the inside," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of the NWHRC. "Our new breast cancer campaign seeks to not only give women the information they need on breast cancer risk factors, screening and treatment, but also encourages them to feel self confident and worthy enough to take preventive steps to keeping themselves healthy."
Despite women believing they are knowledgeable and have the information they need about breast cancer, only 18 percent of women in the survey correctly identified age as the number one risk factor. Sixty-four percent of respondents incorrectly believe that family history is the single greatest factor. Even more disturbing, older women in the survey were no more likely to think they are at risk for breast cancer than other women, showing that they do not fully appreciate the importance of age as a risk factor for breast cancer.
The survey also finds that women with a family history of breast cancer can no more accurately identify the leading risks associated with breast cancer or demonstrate knowledge about breast cancer overall than other respondents.
Cost Largest Impediment to Not Obtaining Mammogram
Overall, women say they are well informed about both breast cancer and screening recommendations. Seventy-five percent correctly stated that women should have a mammogram once a year and nearly the same number (74%) reported having had a mammogram in the last year.
Looking specifically at the women in the survey who had not had a mammogram in the past year, the key factor is not lack of awareness, but rather cost. Twenty-one percent of women say they can not afford to get a mammogram.
"With screening technologies becoming more accurate and advanced, coupled with the number of local programs offering free mammograms, women need to know these options are available in their communities," says Lydia Komarnicky, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Drexel University College of Medicine and medical advisor for the NWHRC's Learn.Love.Commit. campaign.
Breast Cancer: Women's Greatest Health Concern
For a portion of this study, NWHRC teamed with REDBOOK magazine to ask women about their greatest health concerns and their attitudes about surviving a diagnosis of breast cancer. Fifty-one percent of respondents identified breast cancer as the top health concern about which they worry versus those who worry about heart attack (48%), diabetes (42%) and lung cancer (31%).
The study also found that most women are relatively confident that they could survive breast cancer but, at the same time, 40 percent of respondents report that their biggest fear if diagnosed would be dying. Additionally, two-thirds of women (66%) say they are most concerned about the treatment itself or its side effects, including those who mentioned going through chemotherapy or surgery (35%), being sick or weak (19%) or losing a breast (12%).
For more information on the 2008 Breast Cancer Awareness Survey, to learn more about NWHRC's Learn.Love.Commit. campaign, or to request an interview with a breast cancer health professional, please visit www.healthywomen.org/newsroom.
The Learn. Love. Commit. campaign is supported by an educational grant from Eli Lilly, & Co.