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


Conversely, those who indicated that PGD was "too much like playing God" and reported that they considered PGD in the context of religion, had less interest in PGD.

The U.K. Human Fertilization and Embryology authority has approved the use of PGD for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. In a sample of 102 women with a BRCA mutation, most were supportive of PGD but only 38% of the women who had completed their families would consider it for themselves had PGD been available, and only 14% of women who were contemplating a future pregnancy would consider PGD.[174] In a study of 77 individuals undergoing BRCA testing as part of a multicenter cohort study in Spain, 61% of respondents reported they would consider PGD. Factors associated with PGD interest were age 40 years and older and had a prior cancer diagnosis.[175]

In France, couples who obtain authorization from a multidisciplinary prenatal diagnosis team may access PGD free of charge as a benefit of their national health care system. However, no BRCA carriers have been authorized to use PGD. In a national study of 490 unaffected BRCA mutation carriers of childbearing age (women aged 18–49 years; men aged 18–69 years), 16% stated that BRCA test results had altered their ongoing plans for childbearing.[176] Upon qualitative analysis of written comments provided by some respondents, the primary impact was related to accelerating the timing of pregnancy, feelings of guilt about possibly passing on the mutation to offspring, and having future children. In response to a hypothetical scenario in which PGD was readily available, 33% of participants reported that they would undergo PGD. Factors associated with this intention were having no future reproductive plans at the time of the survey, feeling pregnancy termination was an acceptable option in the context of identifying a BRCA mutation, and having fewer cases of breast and/or ovarian cancer in the family. When presented with questions about expectations about delivery of PGD or prenatal diagnosis (PND) information, 85% of respondents felt it should be provided along with BRCA test results; 45% felt that it should be provided when carriers decide to have children. Respondents stated that they would expect this information to be delivered by cancer geneticists (92%), obstetrician/gynecologists (76%), and general practitioners (48%).

A small (N = 25) qualitative study of BRCA mutation–positive women of reproductive age who underwent genetic testing before having children evaluated how their BRCA status influenced their attitudes about reproductive genetic testing (both PGD and PND) and decisions about having children.[177] In this study, the decision to undergo BRCA testing was primarily motivated by the desire to manage one's personal cancer risk, rather than a desire to inform future reproductive decisions. The perceived severity of HBOC influenced concerns about passing on a BRCA mutation to children and also influenced willingness to consider PGD or PND and varied based on personal experience. Most did not believe that BRCA mutation–positive status was a reason to terminate a pregnancy. As observed in prior studies, knowledge of reproductive options varied; however, there was a tendency among participants to view PGD as more acceptable than PND with regard to termination of pregnancy. Decisions regarding the pros and cons of PGD versus PND with termination of pregnancy were driven primarily by personal preferences and experiences, rather than by morality judgments. For example, women were deterred from PGD based on the need to undergo in vitro fertilization and to take hormones that might increase cancer risk and based on the observed experiences of others who underwent this procedure.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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