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Survey finds perceived risk of recurrence low in African-American breast cancer survivors

A unique survey of African American breast cancer survivors at heightened risk for hereditary breast cancer has found the majority do not believe they have an increased chance of developing the cancer again.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, reporting in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, say these findings suggest it is important to ensure that African American women understand their risk of developing cancer, and genetic counseling to address cultural beliefs and values may be one way of doing so.

"Having a personal and family history of breast cancer are known risk factors for breast cancer, and it is surprising and worrisome that most of these women with such a history don't recognize that risk," said the study's lead author, Chanita Hughes Halbert, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and Director of the Community and Minority Cancer Control Program at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center.

Halbert's research focuses on understanding the socio-cultural underpinnings of cancer prevention and control behaviors among ethnically diverse populations so that interventions can be designed that reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.

One such intervention is genetic counseling that often includes testing whether a woman has a mutation in one of two genes (BRCA1/BRCA2); women with these genes are at greater risk for developing breast cancer than women without alterations in those genes.

In an earlier study, Halbert found that African American women with a family history of breast cancer had a lower risk perception than did Caucasian breast cancer survivors. In this study, she and a team of researchers at Penn attempted to tease apart the factors that might lead to this disparity, one of which, they believe, is the way survivors think about time.

"Attitudes about time are aspects of a cultural worldview," Halbert said. "We thought, base
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
15-Feb-2007


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