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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 15. Uptake of Risk-reducing Salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) and/or Gynecologic Screening AmongBRCA1andBRCA2Mutation Carriers continued...

On the other hand, many women found to be mutation carriers express interest in RRM in hopes of minimizing their risk of breast cancer. In one study of a number of unaffected women with no previous risk-reducing surgery who received results of BRCA1 testing after genetic counseling, 17% of carriers (2 of 12) intended to have mastectomies and 33% (4 of 12) intended to have oophorectomies.[115] In a later study of the same population, RRM was considered an important option by 35% of women who tested positive, whereas risk-reducing oophorectomy was considered an important option by 76%. A prospective study assessed the stability of risk management preferences over five time points (pre-BRCA testing to 9 months after results disclosure) among 80 Dutch women with a documented BRCA mutation. Forty-six participants indicated a preference for screening at baseline. Of 25 women who preferred RRM at baseline, 22 indicated the same preference 9 months after test results disclosure; however, it was not reported how many women actually had RRM.[231]

Initial interest does not always translate into the decision for surgery. Two different studies found low rates of RRM among mutation carriers in the year after result disclosure, one showing 3% (1 of 29) of carriers and the other 9% (3 of 34) of carriers having had this surgery.[169,232] Among members from a large BRCA1 kindred, utilization of cancer screening and/or risk-reducing surgeries was assessed at baseline (before disclosure of results), and at 1 year and 2 years after disclosure of BRCA1 test results. Of the 269 men and women who participated, complete data were obtained on 37 female carriers and 92 female noncarriers, all aged 25 years or older. At 2 years after disclosure of test results, none of the women had undergone RRM, although 4 of the 37 carriers (10.8%) said they were considering the procedure. In contrast, of the 26 women who had not had an oophorectomy before baseline, 46% (12 of 26) had obtained an oophorectomy by 2 years after testing. Of those carriers aged 25 to 39 years, 29% (5 of 17) underwent oophorectomy, while 78% (7 of 9) of the carriers aged 40 years and older had this procedure.[216] In a study assessing uptake of risk-reducing surgery 3 months after BRCA result disclosure, 7 of 62 women had undergone RRM and 13 of 62 women had undergone RRSO. Intent to undergo RRSO before testing correlated with procedure uptake. In contrast, intent to undergo RRM did not correlate with uptake. Overall, reasons given for indecision about risk-reducing surgery included complex testing factors such as the significance of family history in the absence of a mutation, concerns over the surgical procedure, and time and uncertainty regarding early menopause and the use of HRT.[233] In a UK study, data were collected during observations of genetic consultations and in semistructured interviews with 41 women after they received genetic counseling.[234] The option of risk-reducing surgery was raised in 29 consultations and discussed in 35 of the postclinic interviews. Fifteen women said they would consider having an oophorectomy in the future, and nine said they would consider having a mastectomy. The implications of undergoing oophorectomy and mastectomy were discussed in postclinic interviews. Risk-reducing surgery was described by the counselees as providing individuals with a means to (a) fulfill their obligations to other family members and (b) reduce risk and contain their fear of cancer. The costs of this form of risk management were described by the respondents as follows:

  • Compromising social obligations.
  • Upsetting the natural balance of the body.
  • Not receiving protection from cancer.
  • Operative and postoperative complications.
  • The onset of menopause.
  • The effects of body image, gender, and personal identity.
  • Potential effects on sexual relationships.[234]
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