A research team at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York asked 74 women who had close relatives with breast cancer if they were prepared to undergo genetic testing for BCRA1 and BCRA2, the genetic mutations associated with breast cancer. The women were also asked about their perceptions of the pros and cons of such testing.
The researchers report in the September-October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine that 81 percent of the women planned to seek genetic testing, and 46 percent said they were interested in getting tested as soon as possible. For most of them, the readiness to be tested was strongly related to their perceptions that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.
"Genetic testing provides powerful information and, as this study shows, a woman's desire to be tested hinges largely on her perception that there is more to be gained than lost by having this knowledge," said Paul Jacobsen, PhD, lead author of the study. "These findings underscore the importance of providing counseling to women who plan to undergo genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility."
Jacobsen, a psychologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida, said counseling is needed to help women know how to use their newfound knowledge to their advantage, as well as to prevent adverse psychological reactions and to assist them in evaluating treatment options.
In the study, a majority of women reported that learning about their
genetic risk would motivate them to practice breast self-examination more
frequently, and help them decide whether to go for more frequent mammograms or
Contact: Karen Clarke
Center for the Advancement of Health