Study: Breast cancer diagnosis and mammogram effect

KUSA - When a coworker is diagnosed with breast cancer, you would think that those around them would be more likely to get their own mammograms to make sure they themselves are ok.

Well, you might be surprised to learn that the opposite seems to be true.

A new study out of the University of Bologna, Italy found this surprising results after looking at over 7,000 women in the U.S. who were 50 years old or older. All of these women worked for one company that had health benefits including free yearly mammograms for this age group.

So essentially, there were no financial reasons not to get yearly mammograms. But what the researchers found is that if someone at this company was diagnosed with breast cancer, then their coworkers ended up being less likely to get mammograms for up to two years after they found out this persons breast cancer. And perhaps more surprising, they were even less likely to get mammograms if their coworker with breast cancer worked near them or if the breast cancer was more severe.

Although the researchers involved in this study were not able to question the women to figure out why they were less likely to get mammograms in these instances, they do have a theory. Having someone you know get breast cancer makes it more real. That can raise someone's anxiety about this and cause them to avoid these types of screening tests in the fear that it might actually find something bad.

In addition, since it happens at work, they are able to live through their coworkers experiences with diagnosis and treatment and see firsthand how it affects them, their career and overall life. This could also raise their own anxiety level which could lead them to avoiding screening tests like the mammogram.

Whatever the reason, it's important to realize this is happening at the workplace. Perhaps once someone is diagnosed with breast cancer more information can be given to coworkers that might help them increase their own rates of mammogram or other screening test that can end up being lifesaving.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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