Specific Education Needed To Correct Myths About Breast Cancer
to learn more about their health and breast cancer, in particular, may
be more critical than you realize. Not only is education the main
factor in women's preventive efforts in this area, but it is needed to
combat several misconceptions women have about breast cancer, according
to a recent study.
significant number of women appear to be educated about breast cancer
in general, several fallacies remain, found the study, conducted by
Avon's Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade and the National Alliance of
Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO).
On the whole,
43 percent of women surveyed answered all 10, or nine out of 10,
true/false questions about breast cancer correctly, scoring an "A,"
while 29 percent answered eight questions correctly and earned a "B."
Ninety-two percent of respondents knew that "not all lumps are
cancerous," and 94 percent knew that "breast cancer is survivable."
than one-third (38 percent) wrongly believe that a woman can get breast
cancer from a bump or tight clothing, and two out of five (41 percent)
were unaware that they could schedule a mammogram directly, without
having their doctor do it, the study found. Moreover, nearly half
— 48 percent — falsely believe that breast cancer can be
results confirm that educating women about breast cancer remains a
crucial job," said Amy Langer, NABCO's executive director. "Recent
scientific discoveries increasingly suggest that our breast cancer risk
is in our genes. What is under women's control is following an early
detection program, but in fact we cannot yet offer any means to prevent
Reasons for Testing
breast cancer education initiatives may be particularly helpful, since
study findings show that those respondents who have had an annual
clinical breast exam said that, for them, knowledge was their reason
for taking preventive measures.
percent said they will have an annual exam because they know about
breast cancer. In addition, 88 percent cited knowing about the exam as
the reason they will have one, and 85 percent will schedule an annual
breast exam because they know what to expect from the exam, the study
Of the women
who do not regularly undergo an annual breast exam, 93 percent said
they would schedule an appointment if they felt a lump. Eighty-eight
percent said they would seek an exam if they thought they were at
"increased risk for breast cancer." Of these women, 61 percent said
that the influence of their husband or partner would encourage them to
schedule an annual breast exam, the survey found. And, 58 percent would
do the same if encouraged by family members, while 53 percent would
have an exam if encouraged by friends or co-workers.
Importance of Doctors
96 percent of those surveyed said that "having a regular doctor" was
very important in their decision to undergo a clinical breast exam and
a mammogram. Eighty-six percent of respondents who do not have an
annual exam said they would be motivated to do so if they had a regular
doctor and that doctor instructed them to do so, according to the study.
"Giving these women the encouragement they need is a particular challenge," said Langer.
the survey, results indicate that women are following one of two
approaches in dealing with breast cancer: the reactive and the
proactive. Those who are proactive tend to follow positive health
practices, which include regular check-ups and screenings. Reactive
women are motivated by personal experience instead of knowledge.
Influence of the Media
results also found that the media greatly influence all women. More
than half — 52 percent — said magazines, newspapers and
books influence their thinking. Forty-five percent said television and
radio also have an influence.
continuing to provide accurate and responsible information, the media
can help us correct some of the myths which still persist," said
Langer. "Although breast cancer cannot be prevented, it's important
that women know it can be detected at an early, treatable stage, before
it can be felt."
Avon Products Inc., 9 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019; (212)
546-6015. National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, 9 E. 37th
Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10016; (212) 719-0154.