HealthDay News — Physicians who report a social network member with a poor breast cancer prognosis are more likely to recommend routine breast cancer screening for younger and older age groups, according to a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Craig Evan Pollack, MD, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined whether physician experiences with patients, friends, colleagues, and family members diagnosed with breast cancer correlated with their breast cancer screening recommendations. Data were included from a sample of 848 physicians.

The researchers found that of the social network members, 18.6% had poor prognosis, and more than half of these had not been diagnosed by screening. The likelihood of recommending screening for women aged 40 to 44 years and those aged 75 years or older was increased for physicians who reported at least 1 social network member with a poor prognosis who was not diagnosed by screening, compared to those who did not report a social network member in this category (probability for women aged 40 to 44 years: 92.7% vs 85.6%; for women ≥75 years: 84.0% vs 68.3%). There was no variation in this association by the type of social network member.

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“Helping clinicians reflect on how their experiences influence their current screening patterns may be an important approach to improve adherence to revised breast cancer screening guidelines,” the authors write.

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Pollack CE, Radhakrishnan A, Parker AM, et al. Association between physicians’ experiences with members of their social network and efforts to reduce breast cancer screening [published online December 4, 2017]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.6871