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BACKGROUND - A significant percentage of breast cancer survivors are at risk for lymphedema for which lifelong self-care is required. Previous studies suggest that less than 50% of breast cancer survivors with lymphedema (BCS-LE) perform prescribed self-care tasks and that even wearing a compression sleeve, the most commonly reported self-care activity, is done irregularly. Reasons for poor self-care adherence include perceived lack of results from self-care (no available arm volume data) and perceived inability to manage the condition.
METHODS AND RESULTS - A two-part pilot study was conducted to: 1) develop and determine the feasibility of a self-measurement protocol using a single frequency bioelectrical impedance device; and 2) examine daily variation in extracellular volume in healthy and lymphedematous limbs. Healthy and BCS-LE volunteers were recruited to refine and test a self-measurement protocol. Volunteers were trained in the use of the device and measured for 5 consecutive days in a laboratory setting. They were then given the device to use at home for an additional 5 consecutive days of self-measurement. All volunteers completed each scheduled home measurement. Daily variability in both groups was noted.
CONCLUSIONS - Home self-measurement using bioelectrical impedance is feasible, acceptable, and captures change. This has implications for both self-care support and for the possibility of incorporating self-measurement using bioelectrical impedance in future clinical trials examining effectiveness of lymphedema treatment.
OBJECTIVE - Studies have demonstrated disparities in breast cancer screening between racial and ethnic groups. Knowledge of a woman's family history of breast cancer is important for initiating early screening interventions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether differences exist in the collection of family history information based on patient race.
DESIGN - Cross-sectional patient telephone interview and medical record review.
SETTING - Eleven primary care practices in the Greater Boston area, all associated with Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals.
PARTICIPANTS - One thousand seven hundred fifty-nine women without a prior history of breast cancer who had been seen at least once by their primary care provider during the prior year.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS - Data were collected on patients regarding self-reported race, family breast cancer history information, and breast cancer screening interventions. Twenty-six percent (462/1,759) of the sample had documentation within their medical record of a family history for breast cancer. On multivariate analysis, after adjusting for patient age, education, number of continuous years in the provider's practice, language, and presentation with a breast complaint, white women were more likely to be asked about a breast cancer family history when compared to nonwhite women (odds ratio, 1.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.21 to 2.35).
CONCLUSIONS - The majority of women seen by primary care providers do not have documentation of a family breast cancer history assessment within their medical record. White women were more likely to have family breast cancer information documented than nonwhites.
The purpose of this study was to describe and classify the barriers to breast self-examinations (BSE) and mammography in African American women. A total of 125 African American women were recruited from historically black colleges, churches and community organizations in Nashville, Tennessee. Their responses to a comprehensive open- and closed-ended questionnaire about barriers to BSE and mammography were coded using a hierarchical coding system and analyzed according to participants' stage of behavior change assignment. On the average, each woman reported 3.1 barriers to BSE (2.5 psychological and 0.6 environmental) and 2.5 barriers to mammography (1.5 psychological and 1.0 environmental). Barriers cited included fear of finding cancer, forgetting, lack of time, lack of knowledge, competing demands, costs, pain, emotional consequences, cultural attitudes towards medicine, uncertainty about benefits and laziness. For BSE, the number of psychological barriers exceeded environmental barriers, while for mammography, the number of psychological and environmental barriers was similar. For BSE, but not mammography, psychological barriers appeared most important for women in the precontemplation, contemplation and preparation stages of behavior change. Overcoming barriers to BSE and mammography could increase early detection rates in African American women. Interventions based on stage of change theory may be especially applicable.