Patients frequently ask about the cause of their breast cancer. To answer, physicians refer to breast cancer risk factors based on medical reports. We aim to assess these risk factors for the point of view of survivors, a point of view which seems to differ from that of medical references. We ran a survey with open- and closed-ended questionnaires on patients’ opinions about risks factors both for women in general and for their own case. We also collected data on their sources of information on this subject. Most patients had no opinion. The most frequently cited risk factors were stress, then genetic causes, and poor diet. Internet was the leading source of information for patients, followed by physicians and magazines. Our study highlights the mismatch between breast cancer risk factors as perceived by scientists and by survivors. Survivors tend to focus on non-controllable risk factors. Taking into account attribution theories of life events, an awareness of patient opinion may be valuable for psychological support of survivors, and it may be informative to record the way in which patients attribute causality for life events such as breast cancer and, more generally, all type of cancer.
Breast cancer Causal attribution Cancer risk factors Health information sources
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The authors thank Dr. Laurent Benoit for his help with collecting data.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
This study was supported financially by Roche France®. This company did not have any role in the design, analysis, or interpretation of this study or in writing the manuscript.
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