(HealthDay News) – Most women overestimate or underestimate their risk of breast cancer, with fewer than one in 10 accurately estimating their risk, according to a study to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2013 Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Sept. 7–9 in San Francisco.

Jonathan D. Herman, MD, from Hofstra North Shore-LIJ Medical School in New Hide Park, NY, and colleagues surveyed 9,873 women from 21 mammography centers on Long Island to compare their perceived breast cancer risk with their calculated risk. Patients were questioned regarding their demographics, personal risk factors, and their perceived risk.

The researchers found that 9.4% of women accurately estimated their risk, 44.7% underestimated their risk, and 45.9% overestimated their risk. For African-Americans, 8.7% were in line with risk, 57.6% underestimated their risk, and 33.7% overestimated their risk. For Asian women the corresponding figures were 10.2%, 58.8%, and 31%; for Hispanics the figures were 8.9%, 50.4%, and 40.8%; and for Caucasians the figures were 10.2%, 38.6%, and 51.3%.

“Women are surrounded by breast cancer awareness messages, through pink ribbons, walks, and other campaigns, yet our study shows that fewer than one in 10 women have an accurate understanding of their breast cancer risk — that means that our education messaging is far off and we should change the way breast cancer awareness is presented,” Herman said in a statement. “If a patient doesn’t have a formal estimation, she will just be guessing her risk.”

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