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Psychosocial Issues in Inherited Breast Cancer Syndromes

    Table 11. Uptake of Risk-reducing Salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) and/or Gynecologic Screening AmongBRCA1andBRCA2Mutation Carriers continued...

    Very little is known about how the results of genetic testing affect treatment decisions at the time of cancer diagnosis. Two studies explored genetic counseling and BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing at the time of breast cancer diagnosis.[199,237] One of these studies found that genetic testing at the time of diagnosis significantly altered surgical decision making, with more mutation carriers than noncarriers opting for bilateral mastectomy. Bilateral RRM was chosen by 48% of mutation-positive women [199] and by 100% of mutation-positive women in a smaller series [237] of women undergoing testing at the time of diagnosis. Of women in whom no mutation was found, 24% also opted for bilateral RRM. Four percent of the test decliners also underwent bilateral RRM. Among mutation carriers, predictors of bilateral RRM included whether patients reported their physicians had recommended BRCA1/BRCA2 testing and bilateral RRM prior to testing, and whether they received a positive test result.[199] Data are lacking on quality-of-life outcomes for women undergoing RRM following genetic testing performed at the time of diagnosis.

    A prospective study from the Netherlands evaluated long-term psychological outcomes of offering women with breast cancer genetic counseling and, if indicated, genetic testing at the onset of breast radiation for treatment of their primary breast cancer. Of those who were approached for counseling, some underwent genetic testing and chose to receive their result (n = 58), some were approached but did not fulfill referral criteria (n = 118), and some declined the option of counseling/testing (n = 44). Another subset of women undergoing radiation therapy was not approached for counseling (n = 182) but was followed using the same measures. Psychological distress was measured at baseline and at 4, 11, 27, and 43 weeks after initial consultation for radiation therapy. No differences were detected in general anxiety, depression or breast cancer–specific distress across all four groups.[238]

    A retrospective questionnaire study of 583 women with a personal and family history of breast cancer and who underwent contralateral prophylactic mastectomy between 1960 and 1993 measured overall satisfaction after mastectomy and factors influencing satisfaction and dissatisfaction with this procedure.[239] The mean time of follow-up was 10.3 years after prophylactic surgery. Overall, 83% of all participants stated they were satisfied or very satisfied, 8% were neutral, and 9% were dissatisfied with contralateral prophylactic mastectomy. Most women also reported favorable effects or no change in their self-esteem, level of stress, and emotional stability after surgery (88%, 83%, and 88%, respectively). Despite the high levels of overall satisfaction, 33% reported negative body image, 26% reported a reduced sense of femininity, and 23% reported a negative effect on sexual relationships. The type of surgical procedure also affected levels of satisfaction. The authors attributed this difference to the high rate of unanticipated reoperations in the group of women having subcutaneous mastectomy (43%) versus the group having simple mastectomy (15%) (P < .0001). Limitations to this study are mostly related to the time period during which participants had their surgery (i.e., availability of surgical reconstructive option).[239,240] None of these women had genetic testing for mutations in the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. Nevertheless, this study shows that while most women in this group were satisfied with contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, all women reported at least one adverse outcome.


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