Ovarian Cancer Canada

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Risk Perception, Worry, and Test Acceptance in Average-Risk Women Undergoing Ovarian Cancer Screening

Average-risk women undergoing ovarian cancer screening highly overestimated their risk of ovarian cancer.

Laura L. Holman, Karen H. Lu, Robert C. Bast Jr.,Mary A. Hernandez, Diane C. Bodurka, Steven Skates, Charlotte C. Sun




We evaluated baseline knowledge of ovarian cancer risk and perceptions toward ovarian cancer screening (OCS) in women initiating the normal risk ovarian screening study (NROSS).

Study Design Average-risk, postmenopausal women were enrolled between 2001 and 2011 as they entered the NROSS. Participants completed baseline surveys of risk perception, cancer worry (Cancer Worry Scale), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), health and well-being (SF-36), and acceptability of OCS.


Of the 1242 women enrolled, 925 (74.5%) completed surveys. The respondents estimated a mean lifetime risk of ovarian cancer of 29.9%, much higher than the actual risk of 1.4% for women in the U.S. Only 2.8% of participants correctly estimated their risk, while 35.4% reported their lifetime risk to be ≥50%. Cancer worry was low, with a median CWS score of 7 out of 24. Anxiety was comparable to published norms for women in this age group, with median STAI-S and STAI-T scores of 30 and 29 out of 80, respectively. Overall, women reported good physical and mental well-being. In terms of OCS acceptability, 97.2% of respondents agreed, or strongly agreed, that “the benefits of screening outweigh the difficulties.” Very few women were reluctant to undergo OCS due to time constraints (1.1%), pain (2.0%), or embarrassment (1.9%).


Average-risk women undergoing OCS highly overestimated their risk of ovarian cancer.

Despite this, participants reported low cancer worry and anxiety. The discrepancy between knowledge of and attitudes toward ovarian cancer risk highlights the need for educational efforts in this area.


This entry was posted on December 12, 2013 by in Research Updates and tagged , .

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