Health Psychol. 2014 Aug 18. [Epub ahead of print]
The Relationship Between the Belief in a Genetic Cause for Breast Cancer and Bilateral Mastectomy.
Objective: Most women develop causal beliefs following diagnosis with breast cancer and these beliefs can guide decisions around their care and management. Bilateral mastectomy rates are increasing, although the benefits of this surgery are only established in a small percentage of women. In this study we investigated the relationship between causal beliefs and the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy. Method: Women (N = 2,269) from the Army of Women's breast cancer research registry completed an online survey. Women were asked what they believed caused their cancer and responses were coded into 8 causal categories. Participants were also asked about the type of surgery they underwent following their breast cancer diagnosis. The odds ratios for having a double mastectomy were calculated for each causal category using random/bad luck as a referent category. Results: Hormonal factors (22%) and genetics (19%) were the most common causal belief, followed by don't know (19%), environmental toxins (11%), negative emotions (9%), poor health behavior (8%), other (6%) and random/bad luck (6%). Compared with the referent category, the odds ratio of having a bilateral mastectomy was significantly higher in both the genetics and hormonal causal belief groups (OR = 2.36, 95% CI [1.38, 4.02] and OR = 1.98, 95% CI [1.16, 3.38], respectively). Conclusions: Beliefs in a genetic cause for breast cancer are common and are associated with high rates of bilateral mastectomy. This is despite evidence that the actual genetic contribution to breast cancer is much lower than perceived and that bilateral mastectomy is, in most cases, unlikely to improve survival. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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