Assess Your True Risk of Breast Cancer

Patricia T. Kelly, Author, Kelly, Author
Patricia T. Kelly, Author, Kelly, Author Henry Holt & Company $15 (253p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6468-1
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
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Although there's a great deal of new information about breast cancer, Kelly, a medical geneticist and cancer specialist, recognizes that there is also ""little or no clarity or help for a woman trying to use [that] information to make decisions."" Debunking information that is misleading, sensational or just plain out of date, Kelly attempts to put accurate knowledge in the hands of women so they can make intelligent decisions about their breast health. She offers examples of various (and sometimes contradictory) studies on breast cancer risk to clarify the popular statistics (e.g., 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer). Her prime concern is the difference between relative risk and absolute risk (the latter includes a time frame, and actual risk numbers are much lower). In fact, Kelly's data imply that very few women are at high risk of getting breast cancer, whatever their family or personal history. She mentions various kinds of ""noncancers"" (DCIS and LCIS) along with genetic testing. She even considers hormone replacement therapy, saying it has little overall effect on women's risk of contracting breast cancer (even for women already diagnosed). But despite the wealth of data and analyses, or perhaps because of it, this volume is not quite as accessible as the author might wish. Her discussion of statistics, for example, can be daunting, and most readers will need to be review it more than once. Nonetheless, those willing to grapple with the occasionally academic writing will find valuable advice here. (Oct.)
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