POLL: Women and Breast Cancer: Many Fall Short in Screening

Overall, 57 percent of women have ever had a mammogram, peaking at eight in 10 older women with a family history of breast cancer. However, as noted above, fewer have had one in the last year; somewhat more, in the last two years.

Having had a mammogram, a breast exam during a checkup and self-exams all are higher among women who've discussed breast cancer with their doctors. Concern also is a factor: Women over 40 who are concerned about their risk are somewhat more apt to have done self-exams, and especially more likely to have had mammograms.

Multiple Steps/Other Steps

All told, 85 percent of women over 40 report having had at least one of the following: a mammogram, self-exam or a breast exam as part of a medical visit -- at least once. Fewer, though -- 42 percent -- have taken at least two of these steps at least once each. And as noted, fewer still follow-up regularly.

To avoid leading respondents, this poll asked about breast cancer screening in an open-ended question: "What steps, if any, have you personally taken to avoid or check for breast cancer?" In addition to the most-cited responses, a total of 16 percent say they've changed lifestyle behaviors, such as regulating diet, exercising and avoiding cigarettes and alcohol -- with older women more likely to make such changes, 20 percent vs. 10 percent of younger women.

One in 10 reports taking no steps to avoid or check for breast cancer.


This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 26-30, 2007, among a random national sample of 510 adult women. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Field work by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

Click here for PDF with charts and data table.

Click here for more ABC News polls.

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