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Survey Says Most Women Don’t Understand Risk of Breast Cancer

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most women have a skewed understanding of their breast cancer risk, according to a new survey polling more than 9,000 participants.

Dr. Jonathan Herman, an ob-gyn who worked on the study with his teenage daughter, found that most women either underestimated or overestimated their lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. Herman conducted the survey on patients before they received mammograms.

Only 9.4 percent of women accurately estimated their risk, while 44.7 percent underestimated and 45.9 percent overestimated. Caucasians were more likely to note a higher risk, and African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics were likely to underestimate.

Researchers said these women may benefit from added care to avoid needless anxiety.

"The group that overestimates -- and we also have a group that we say highly overestimates the their risk -- they're sitting there worrying every day, so with an accurate number, we could relieve their tension," Herman said.

Increasing care and promoting preventative measures could also help high-risk women, Herman explained.

"Instead of just having a mammography, we could add a breast ultrasound or a breast MRI," he said. "There's also now medications we could give patients called chemo-preventative medications that could reduce the risk of ever getting breast cancer."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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