A survey was undertaken among a representative sample of the female population, aged 20 to 74, of the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland (total population 550,000) to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of women in respect to breast cancer and its prevention. The present study focuses on access by women to medical preventive measures (breast examination by physician and information on breast self-examination). The data are analyzed in relation to the individual risk factors affecting women, in particular age. While with age the risk of breast cancer grows in a linear fashion, the proportion of women having their breast examined by a physician declines. Women over 50 who had no children before the age of 30 constitute an especially high risk category, with the lowest access to information and prevention. This is explained in large part by the fact that they consult gynecologists less often. In this regard it should be noted that a visit to a gynecologist's office is associated much more often with breast examination than a visit to a family physician. It is important to take such findings into account in providing more appropriate and complete care for those groups. This involves sensitization of the physician and improved information for the women themselves.