A study out today suggests that public education campaigns can work too well: women overestimate their risk of breast cancer and overestimate the ability of mammograms to detect tumors. It’s a good thing that women are aware and will go for mammograms. It’s a bad thing when women gain a false sense of security once a mammogram comes back negative. There is so much information out there that there is overload. May is “Sweeps Month” for television, so don’t be surprised to see features on the evening news on breast cancer and other health topics. Unfortunately, in the attempt to pump up ratings (which drives advertising rates), some stations may go overboard.
I’m a believer that information from a physician is the most effective tool for patient education. Using free and low cost materials available, you can offer patients as “take away” that they can read and re-read, outside of the time constraint of an office visit. The llink above includes links to the Komen Foundation and other resources for you to use. The State of California has a patient guide that looks to be thorough and well done (apparantly it’s required to be given to patients). The National Cancer Institute has good materials and promotes National Mammography Day in October each year.