• Article

BRCA1/2 testing in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families III Risk perception and screening

This study aimed to ascertain whether cancer risk perception changed following the offer and subsequent receipt of BRCA1/2 results and to evaluate breast and ovarian screening practices in testers and non-testers. Members of thirteen HBOC families were offered BRCA1/2 testing for a known family mutation. Perceived risk for developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer or for carrying the familial BRCA1/2 mutation, was assessed at baseline and again at 6-9 months following the receipt of test results. Breast and ovarian cancer screening data were obtained at both time-points. A total of 138 women participated and 120 (87%) chose to be tested for a known familial mutation. Twenty-eight women (24%) were identified as carriers and their perceived ovarian cancer risk and their perception of being a mutation carrier increased (P = 0.01 for both). Those testing negatives had a significant decrease in all dimensions of risk perception (P < 0.01). Regression analysis showed test results to be strong predictors of follow-up risk perception (P = 0.001), however, they were not predictors of screening practices at follow-up. Testers were more likely to have completed a clinical breast exam following testing than decliners. Mammography was positively associated with baseline adherence, age, and intrusive thoughts. Ovarian cancer worries only predicted pelvic ultrasound screening post-testing. Baseline practices and psychological factors appear to be stronger predictors of health behavior than test results.


McInerney-Leo, A., Hadley, D., Kase, R. G., Giambarresi, T. R., Struewing, J. P., & Biesecker, B. B. (2006). BRCA1/2 testing in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families III: Risk perception and screening. American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A, 140(20), 2198-206. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.a.31432

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