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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Psychosocial Issues in Inherited Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndromes

Table 13. Predictors Associated with Uptake of Genetic Testing (GT) continued...

Several studies conducted in non-U.S. settings have examined the uptake of genetic testing.[17,18,19,20,21] In studies examining the uptake of testing among at-risk relatives of BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers, uptake rates have averaged below 50% (range, 36%-48%), with higher uptake reported among female relatives than in male relatives. Other factors associated with higher uptake of testing were not consistently reported among studies but have most commonly included being a parent and wanting to learn information about a child's risk.

Factors influencing uptake of genetic counseling and genetic testing

In reviews that have examined the cumulative evidence concerning the predictors of uptake of BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing, important predictors of testing uptake include older age, Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) heritage, unmarried status, a personal history of breast cancer, and a family history of breast cancer. Studies recruiting participants in hospital settings had significantly higher recruitment rates than did studies recruiting participants in community settings. Studies that required an immediate decision to test, rather than allowing delayed decision making, tended to report higher uptake rates.[11] However, there is evidence that women diagnosed with breast cancer are equally satisfied with genetic counseling (including information received and strength and timing of physician recommendations for counseling), whether they received genetic counseling before or after their definitive surgery for breast cancer.[22] Another review [23] found that uptake of genetic testing for BRCA1/2 mutations was related to psychological factors (e.g., anxiety about breast cancer and perceived risk of breast cancer) and demographic and medical factors (e.g., history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, presence of children, and higher number of affected first-degree relatives). Family members with a known BRCA1/2 mutation were more likely to pursue testing; those with more extensive knowledge of BRCA1/2 testing, heightened risk perceptions, beliefs that mammography would promote health benefit, and high intentions to undergo testing were more likely to follow through with testing.[24]

In a review of racial/ethnic differences that affect uptake of BRCA1/2 testing, intention to undergo genetic testing in African American women was related to having at least one first-degree relative with breast cancer or ovarian cancer, higher perceived risk of being a carrier, and less anticipatory guilt about the possibility of being a gene carrier.[25]

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