What do European women know about their female cancer risks and cancer screening?

Informed decision making about cancer screening requires accurate knowledge of both risks and benefits. This study investigates: (1) European women’s knowledge of their risk of developing breast, ovarian, cervical or endometrial cancer, (2) their knowledge about mammography screening and (3) whether an evidence-based leaflet improves their knowledge. The online intervention survey was administered in five European countries (Germany, UK, Italy, Sweden and Czech Republic). Across countries 59 – 91% overestimated their female cancer risks and only 26.5% were aware that mammography screening had both benefits and harms. Women who accurately estimated their breast cancer risk were less likely to believe that mammography prevents cancer. After reading the evidence-based leaflet, knowledge of cancer risks improved by 27-37.1%. This study shows that a large proportion of women may not have enough information to provide informed choice around cancer screening.

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