Understanding of breast cancer concepts in an undereducated county hospital population

Marcia E. Bouton, Jesse Nodora, Chiu Hsieh Hsu, Andrew Green, Maria Elena Martinez, Ian K. Komenaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine how well breast cancer patients at a County hospital understood breast cancer concepts and treatment at time of operation. Methods: An 11 question multiple-choice examination was devised at a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 5.8. This was administered to patients prior to undergoing their definitive cancer operation. Results: Forty-one of 42 consecutive women agreed to participate in the study. Seventy-eight percent self identified as Hispanic and 64% had less than a High School education. For the question "Which surgery gives me a better chance to live?" 51% said mastectomy and lumpectomy are equal and 33% thought mastectomy was superior. Interestingly, 88% of respondents understood that screening mammograms are important. Sixty-two percent of the patients, however, did not get screening mammograms. Multivariate analysis revealed that highest level of education (P < 0.001) and employment status (P = 0.007) correlated significantly with test score. Age, insurance status, household income, and ethnicity did not significantly predict test score. Conclusion: Although the correct answer was the most frequently selected answer, this examination revealed deficits in the understanding of this undereducated population. Higher level of education and employment status did correlate with improved score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-403
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast conservation
  • County hospital
  • Screening
  • Understanding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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