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Abstract Breast cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among American women. Evidence indicates that regular breast self-examination (BSE) may reduce breast cancer mortality by 18%, yet the majority of women do not practice it. This study used a decision model to examine the BSE-related characteristics, beliefs, and behaviors of 52 working women age 21 to 65 years (mean 44.05 yrs). Nearly 29% of the sample performed BSE. They were more likely than nonperformers to be white, to have a close relative who had breast cancer, and to believe that breast problems could be detected through BSE. Fears, particularly fear of cancer, were more likely to affect performers' than nonperformers' BSE decision. Nonperformers were more likely to think that the first symptom of breast cancer would be a sensation of some type. and that a healthy lifestyle protected them from the disease. They also were more likely to think reminders would encourage them to perform BSE. The most often reported sources of information about BSE were health care providers and friends or relatives.