Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy among Chilean women and an increasingly significant public health threat. This study assessed the accuracy of breast cancer risk perception among underserved, Chilean women.
Women aged 50 to 70 years, with no mammogram during the last two years, were randomly selected from a community clinic registry in Santiago, Chile (n=500). Perceived risk was measured using three methods: absolute risk, comparative risk and numerical risk. Risk comprehension was measured by comparing women’s perceived and objective risk estimates. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess overestimation of perceived risk.
Women at high risk of breast cancer were more likely than average risk women to perceive themselves at high or higher risk, using absolute and comparative risk approaches (p<0.001). The majority of participants (67%) overestimated their breast cancer risk, based on risk comprehension; although, participants achieved higher accuracy with comparative risk (40%) and absolute risk (31.6%) methods. [Age, breast cancer knowledge and Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (BCRAT) 5-year risk were significantly associated (p<0.01) with accuracy of perceived risk].
Chilean women residing in an underserved community may not accurately assess their breast cancer risk, though risk perception and level of accuracy differed between perceived risk measures. Comparative and absolute risk methods may better reflect women’s interpretation and accuracy of risk perception.
Improving our understanding of Chilean women’s perceptions of developing breast cancer may lead to the development of culturally relevant efforts to reduce the breast cancer burden in this population.