A university researcher is astonished at how few Hong Kong and mainland women are familiar with breast-cancer risk factors or ways of preventing the disease. More than half the women interviewed in a survey said they were not worried about getting the disease, and almost a third had never given themselves a self-examination - one of the key methods of prevention. Yan Yuk-kee, a professor in Baptist University's department of geography, which conducted the survey in 2006, said the results showed there was insufficient awareness about the disease, especially among younger women. 'I am astonished to see that so many respondents, accounting for nearly one-third of the interviewees, had not even tried to do a self-examination,' Professor Yan said. 'They included embarrassment, lack of free time, and fear of the results as reasons, and one-third said they did not know how to do it properly. 'The survey also revealed that those who tend not to worry about breast cancer are mostly students and young women, plus some who have higher incomes ... this reflects the common belief that breast cancer does not affect young women, which is not true.' She said the 496 respondents, who included both Hong Kong and mainland women, were generally ignorant of breast cancer risk factors. Only 10.7 per cent identified childlessness as one of the risk factors, 12.7 per cent named age of menopause, 11.9 per cent the age of the first menstrual period, and 11.3 per cent the duration of breastfeeding. None of the respondents nominated age, diet, smoking, alcoholism or lack of exercise as risk factors. The survey also revealed that 159 respondents had never heard of mammography, a common technology for diagnosing breast cancer. And 379 respondents had never had a mammogram. Professor Yan suggested more information be given to the public about the disease, especially on self-examination methods. 'According to the Hong Kong Cancer Registry, the number of breast-cancer cases has grown steadily from 852 to 2,273 during the period of 1983 to 2004,' she said.