Results from a nationwide survey conducted on the attitudes, knowledge, and practices related to risk assessment, prevention, and screening for breast and ovarian cancer were announced. The findings reveal disconnects between perceived health knowledge and proactive actions taken in response.

The Myriad Genetics Women’s Health Survey of 1,000 women, ages 25-64, found that while most women of mammogram age (40 and above) consider themselves to be proactive about their health, 1 in 3 of women age 40+ say they have not had a mammogram within the last 2 years (33%). The survey also showed that having a family history of cancer may not drive behavior change when it comes to preventive behaviors – one in 10 women age 40+ with a family member who has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer say they have never had a mammogram (10%), compared to 13% of women age 40+ overall.

“Women need to be empowered to know more and do more to reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Mammograms are vital for the early detection of breast cancer in women, and many should consider genetic testing as well,” said Melissa Gonzales, President of Women’s Health at Myriad Genetics. “Myriad Genetics is committed to helping all women understand – and reduce – their individual risk of deadly diseases that continue to claim far too many lives.”

Survey results are available for download here. Highlights include:

Family Health History Is a Call to Action Sometimes Ignored
Accurate family history is an issue for many, with a lingering gap between what women think they know about their health and what they actually know. The survey found that although half of women (51%) say they have no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, many are not sure if that’s true. Nearly a third of these women (30%) say they don’t really know if anyone in their family has ever been diagnosed because their family doesn’t talk about medical issues.

Only 30% of respondents are very comfortable speaking with their father about their potential risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer, compared to 57% who are very comfortable speaking about it with their mother.

Genetic Testing – An Important, but Misunderstood, Tool in Cancer Prevention

At least seven in 10 women are aware of ancestry genetic testing (80%) and prenatal genetic testing (70%), but less than half (46%) are aware of specific hereditary cancer-related genetic tests.

Compounding the lack of awareness is a lack of clarity on when to undergo genetic testing for hereditary cancer. Thirty percent of women responded that they think genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk is only necessary if multiple people in a family have had breast or ovarian cancer.

Other findings:

  • 54% of respondents don’t know enough about genetic testing to understand if they want it or not.
  • Many respondents see their providers as a source of information about hereditary cancer genetic testing – specifically, 83% cited primary care providers and 69% pointed to their ob-gyn.
  • 1 in 3 women do not think they qualify for genetic testing or know how to ask for it (34%).

“My mother’s family didn’t have a history of breast cancer, so I wasn’t too worried. But when my sister was diagnosed, she urged me to be tested,” said Jen Culton, 48, of Omaha, Nebraska. “Myriad Genetics MyRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test showed me that I too was at heightened risk – from my father’s side of the family. One of my daughters inherited the same mutation that I have. Without that testing, neither one of us would have known.”

About Myriad Genetics
Myriad Genetics is a leading genetic testing and precision medicine company dedicated to advancing health and well-being for all. Myriad offers a range of genetic tests and cancer risk assessments, including the MyRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test, which identifies an individual’s risk of developing 11 hereditary cancers, including breast and ovarian, and provides a detailed assessment and individualized report based on a test sample and personal and family medical history. For more information, visit

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