Usually, the mass media do not address hereditary cancer and their risk factors, nor are these topics discussed at the community level. We used an informative guide on cancer and hereditary cancer, followed by a questionnaire on these topics to investigate the relevant knowledge among women at high risk for hereditary breast and/or colorectal cancer from a population-based cohort. The cohort was composed of 81 Brazilian women with positive family histories of breast and/or colorectal cancer. Strauss and Corbin’s Grounded Theory was used for qualitative analysis. The average age of the cohort was 49.9 years old. Three participants (3.9 %) were illiterate, 45 (59.2 %) had attended elementary school, 14 (18.4 %) had secondary school, and 14 (18.4 %) held higher education degrees. A total of 47 (54.3 %) volunteers were unable to fully understand the information provided in the guide because they did not know the meaning of words such as metastasis, malignant, hereditary, sporadic, or oncogenetics. Notwithstanding, the acceptance of the educational tool utilized was satisfactory, and it enhanced the volunteers’ interest in a better understanding of cancer and heredity. Thereby, we concluded that the low knowledge of this important subject and the unawareness about fundamental terms required for the comprehension of this specific type of neoplasm made us believe that the use of the informative guide can provide a great value when used previously to the genetic counseling consultations. Besides, educational tools of easy understanding should be part of everyday clinical practice, from primary to specialized patient care.
Hereditary cancer Cancer education Knowledge on hereditary cancer Genetic counseling