Perception of cancer recurrence risk: More information is better

Kimberly M. Kelly, Mayank Ajmera, Sandipan Bhattacharjee, Rini Vohra, Gerry Hobbs, Lubna Chaudhary, Jame Abraham, Doreen Agnese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Given the advances in extending survival, the number of recently diagnosed breast cancer patients and longer-term breast cancer survivors is growing. The goals of this study were to better understand (1) perceptions of provider cancer recurrence risk communication, (2) perceived risk of breast cancer recurrence in cancer patients and survivors, and (3) accuracy of perceived risk. Methods: A survey was conducted on women with a prior breast cancer (n= 141). Results: Approximately 40% of women perceived that providers had not talked about their breast cancer recurrence risk; although only 1 person reported not wanting a physician to talk to her about her risk. Women were largely inaccurate in their assessments of risk. Greater worry, living in a rural area, and longer time since diagnosis were associated with greater inaccuracy. Women tended to think about distal recurrence of cancer as often of local recurrence. Conclusions: Perceived risk of breast cancer recurrence was inaccurate, and patients desired more communication about recurrence risk. Practice implications: Consistent with findings from other studies, greater efforts are needed to improve the communication of cancer recurrence risk to patients. Attention should be paid to those from rural areas and to distal cancer recurrence in women with a previous history of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Communication
  • Oncology
  • Physician
  • Risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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