B123: Knowledge of modifiable risk factors for breast cancer in women attending NHS breast symptomatic clinics and breast screening mammography

Ellen Copson1,Ellena Sheldon2,Mark McCann3,Lyn Brierley-Jones4,Julia Sinclair2

1Cancer Sciences Academic Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK,2University Department of Psychiatry, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK,3MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK,4Department of Pharmacy, Health and Well-being University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK

Presenting date: Tuesday 3 November
Presenting time: 12.20-13.10


Potentially modifiable risk factors account for >25% of breast cancers, with obesity and alcohol being the two greatest. Breast screening and symptomatic clinic attendances are potential opportunities, ("teachable moments"), to provide breast cancer prevention advice. This study aimed to explore knowledge of modifiable breast cancer risk factors in women attending these appointments.


Women attending i) NHS breast screening programme (NHSBSP) mammograms and ii) symptomatic breast clinics in Southampton were recruited in March 2015. Participants completed a questionnaire containing closed and open questions on risk factors for breast cancer and awareness of alcohol units. Free text responses were categorised and descriptive statistical analysis undertaken.


206 participants were recruited; 103 NHSBSP attenders (SG) and 103 symptomatic clinic attenders (CG). Age groups were: ?40 years (8.3%), 41-50 (22%), 51-60 (35.6%), 61-70 (19.0%) and ?71 (15.1%) years.
23% of each group did not identify any risk factors for breast cancer. Obesity was identified by 31% of participants (30% vs 32% in SG and CG respectively). Alcohol was identified as a risk factor by 16% of the SG and 24% of the CG (p=NS). Those who drank alcohol were more likely to identify alcohol as a risk factor than non-drinkers, (?2= 5.80, p=0.016) and this was greater in the CG compared to the SG (?2= 12.698; p=0.0004). 50% of SG and 61% of CG participants were unable to correctly identify the alcohol content of any of 4 alcoholic drinks.


Knowledge of modifiable risk factors for breast cancer was low. However, the results suggest that those who drink alcohol are aware of it as a risk factor but may not be able to estimate their own risk, as their levels of alcohol literacy are low. This highlights the potential for using these opportunities as "teachable moments" to empower women to reduce their risk.