Tan and Colleagues Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

Research Area: 

The article “An Analysis of the Association Between Cancer-Related Information Seeking and Adherence to Breast Cancer Surveillance Procedures” has been published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (online, November 2012). The work is by Annenberg doctoral Student Andy S.L. Tan, Mihaela Moldovan-Johnson, Ph.D. (Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services); Stacy W. Gray, MD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston); Robert C. Hornik, Ph.D., the Wilbur Schramm Professor of Communication at Annenberg; and Katrina Armstrong, MD (Leonard Davis Institute).  


Breast cancer surveillance is important for women with a known history of breast cancer. However, relatively little is known about the prevalence and determinants of adherence to surveillance procedures, including associations with seeking of cancer-related information from medical and nonmedical sources.


We conducted a longitudinal cohort study of breast cancer patients diagnosed in Pennsylvania in 2005. Our main analyses included 352 women who were eligible for surveillance and participated in both baseline (∼1 year after cancer diagnosis) and follow-up surveys. Outcomes were self-reported doctor visits and physical examination, mammography, and breast self-examination (BSE) at 1-year follow-up.


Most women underwent two or more physical examinations according to recommended guidelines (85%). For mammography, 56% of women were adherent (one mammogram in a year) while 39% reported possible overuse (two or more mammograms). Approximately 60% of respondents reported regular BSE (≥5 times in a year). Controlling for potential confounders, higher levels of cancer-related information seeking from nonmedical sources at baseline was associated with regular BSE (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.01–2.29; P, 0.046). There was no significant association between information-seeking behaviors from medical or nonmedical sources and surveillance with physical examination or mammography.


Seeking cancer-related information from nonmedical sources is associated with regular BSE, a surveillance behavior that is not consistently recommended by professional organizations.


Findings from this study will inform clinicians on the contribution of active information seeking toward breast cancer survivors’ adherence to different surveillance behaviors.