Older Women Rely on Primary Care Physicians for Early Discussions Surrounding Breast Cancer Awareness, According to New Oak Street Health Survey
CHICAGO, IL — October 14, 2020 — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and primary care provider Oak Street Health (OSH) conducted an annual survey to inform, encourage and support older women at risk for the disease that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with in her lifetime. The study revealed that the majority of respondents lack confidence and comfortability with self-screenings and conversations surrounding breast cancer, giving providers an opportunity to engage early with their older female patients to normalize difficult conversations.
The OSH 2020 Breast Cancer Awareness Survey found that early detection typically starts with the primary care physician. In the recent survey of 1,000 female adults ages 65+, Oak Street Health asked women what they know about breast cancer screenings, as well as their experience with the process. Key findings include:
- Proactive conversations around breast cancer testings are necessary to improve patient comfort and eliminate fear. Nearly half of older women respondents (45%) reported that the fear of pain is preventing them from being tested for breast cancer. Additionally, 38 percent of responding older women say that embarrassment or feeling uncomfortable is preventing them from getting screened for breast cancer.
- Providers should address self-evaluations and screenings for breast cancer in their regular care appointments to increase testing. While the majority of survey respondents (72%) rely on their primary care physicians for information and education about breast cancer awareness, including testing and symptoms, almost half of respondents (46%) have never discussed potential signs of breast cancer with their primary care doctor.
- Older women aren’t following the recommended guidelines for breast cancer testing. According to The United States Preventive Services Task Force, it’s recommended that any woman, 50 or older, should have a mammogram every two years. Of the 1,000 older women surveyed, only 19 percent reported getting a mammogram every two years.
- There is an opportunity for doctors to promote education and confidence around both self-screening and testing options. Nearly one-quarter of older female adults (21%) say they are somewhat unconfident, or very unconfident in their ability to perform self-screenings properly. Additionally, more than one-quarter (31%) of older women do not understand the difference between the tests for breast cancer examination.
“Early detection for breast cancer really is key, so care teams at Oak Street Health are proactive to ensure our patients get screened at the appropriate interval,” said Dr. Marisa Rogers, Executive Medical Director, Oak Street Health. “We’re driven to spark important conversations with older women, not only for early detection, but to make our patients feel more comfortable and more confident in identifying symptoms they should bring to our attention and the mammogram screening process.
About Oak Street Health
Founded in 2012, Oak Street Health is a network of value-based, primary care centers for adults on Medicare. With a mission of rebuilding healthcare as it should be, the company operates an innovative healthcare model focused on quality of care over volume of services, and assumes the full financial risk of its patients. Oak Street Health currently operates more than 65 centers across Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Tennessee and Texas. To learn more about Oak Street Health’s proven approach to care, visit oakstreethealth.com.
Erica Frank, Vice President of Public Relations
Oak Street Health