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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Patterns of breast cancer screening among lesbians at increased risk for breast cancer.

BACKGROUND: Women with a family history of breast cancer (i.e., in a mother, sister or daughter) are at increased risk for this disease. Previous data also suggest that lesbians are at increased risk for breast cancer. While the screening behaviors of women with a family history have been described, little is known about factors that influence screening behaviors of lesbians with the same risk factor profile. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to characterize the perceptions of susceptibility to breast cancer and describe factors that influence adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines in a sample of lesbians with a first-degree relative with a diagnosis of breast cancer. METHODS: Structured telephone interviews were conducted on a sample of 139 self-identified lesbians who had a first-degree relative with a diagnosis of breast cancer, were between the ages of 35 to 75 and had no previous history of cancer. Cross-sectional data obtained, included socio-demographics, breast cancer risk factors, breast cancer screening patterns, breast cancer perceptions, worries, and knowledge, and barriers and access to health care factors. Individual subject characteristics were examined for their association with adherence to mammography guidelines followed by a multivariate analysis to evaluate the most important combinations of factors. Outcome measures were age-specific adherence to ACS guidelines for both mammography and overall adherence (i.e., mammography, clinical breast examination and breast self-examination). RESULTS: The 139 lesbians interviewed for this study were young (mean age = 43), almost exclusively white (94%), highly educated (78% = college graduate and beyond), and partnered (68%). In the bivariate analysis of individual factors, being employed and reporting breast cancer worries were significantly and positively associated with adherence to mammography guidelines. Higher income and insurance type were significantly associated with mammography adherence. No factors were significantly associated with overall adherence. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that only income level and degree of breast cancer worries were significantly and positively associated with mammography adherence. However, since there was a high correlation between income level and employment status, a regression model with employment status and worry was also significantly related to mammography adherence. CONCLUSIONS: In lesbians who are at an increased risk for breast cancer because of family history, breast cancer worries may motivate, rather than deter, adherence for mammography use. High income levels also appear to enable adherence in this population. IMPLICATIONS: Additional studies are needed to validate these findings, identify the prevalence of lesbians in general samples of women at increased risk for breast cancer, and prospectively test lesbian sensitive educational intervention strategies designed to facilitate adherence to mammography screening guidelines in this population.[1]


  1. Patterns of breast cancer screening among lesbians at increased risk for breast cancer. Burnett, C.B., Steakley, C.S., Slack, R., Roth, J., Lerman, C. Women & health. (1999) [Pubmed]
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