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Patient responses to the disclosure of BRCA mutation tests in hereditary breast-ovarian cancer families

      Abstract

      Limited attention has been given to the impact of BRCA mutation disclosure on participants' psychological reaction and cancer control compliance. We asked women (290 mutation-positive, 370 mutation-negative) from 84 hereditary breast–ovarian cancer (HBOC) families with known deleterious BRCA mutations to participate in an evaluation regarding cancer prevention recommendations before and after BRCA mutation disclosure. Both men and women (n = 780) were invited to complete a questionnaire to evaluate their psychological response to BRCA mutation disclosure. Before BRCA testing, 23.0% (152 of 660) of these women underwent prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, oophorectomy, or both; of these, 53% (80 of 152) were subsequently found to be mutation negative. After mutation disclosure, 52.9% (110 of 208) of mutation carriers and 0% (0 of 203) of noncarriers underwent prophylactic surgeries. These changes were statistically significant compared with before disclosure (P < 0.0001). The rate of transvaginal ovarian ultrasound screening was significantly increased in mutation carriers (P < 0.015) and marginally decreased in noncarriers (P = 0.063) post disclosure. Psychologically, compared with noncarriers without cancer, a significantly higher percentage of carriers, regardless of their cancer status, felt guilt about passing a mutation to their children, worried about developing additional cancer or their children developing cancer, and were concerned about health insurance discrimination. Despite these psychological consequences, carriers and noncarriers reported a positive attitude toward genetic testing.
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