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Cancer Health Center

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Genetics of Colorectal Cancer (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Psychosocial Issues in Hereditary Colon Cancer Syndromes

Table 17. Summary of Studies Evaluating Attitudes Toward, Interest in, or Intention to Use Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) for FAPa, LSb, and PJSa continued...

Findings from some studies suggested that there may be subgroups of individuals at higher risk of psychological distress after disclosure of test results, including those who present with relatively higher scores on measures of general or cancer-specific distress before undergoing testing.[33,34,35,36,37,42] A study of CRC patients who had donated blood for LS testing found that higher levels of depressive symptoms and/or anxiety were found among women, younger persons, nonwhites, and those with less formal education and fewer and less satisfactory sources of social support.[33] A subgroup of individuals who showed higher levels of psychological distress and lower quality of life and social support were identified from the same population; in addition, this subgroup was more likely to worry about finding out that they were LS mutation carriers and being able to cope with learning their test results.[34] In a follow-up report that evaluated psychological outcomes after the disclosure of test results among CRC patients and relatives at risk of having a LS mutation, a subgroup with the same psychosocial characteristics experienced higher levels of general distress and distress specific to the experience of having genetic testing within the year after disclosure, regardless of mutation status. Nonwhites and those with lower education had higher levels of depression and anxiety scores at all times compared with whites and those with higher education, respectively.[36] Other studies have also found that a prior history of major or minor depression, higher pretest levels of cancer-specific distress, having a greater number of cancer-affected first-degree relatives, greater grief reactions, and greater emotional illness-related representations predicted higher levels of distress from 1 to 6 months after disclosure of test results.[37,42] While further research is needed in this area, case studies indicate that it is important to identify persons who may be at risk of experiencing psychiatric distress and to provide psychological support and follow-up throughout the genetic counseling and genetic testing process.[43]

Studies also have examined the effect of LS genetic counseling and testing on cancer risk comprehension. One study reported that nearly all mutation carriers and noncarriers could accurately recall the test result 1 year after disclosure. More noncarriers than carriers correctly identified their risk of developing CRC at both 1 month and 1 year after result disclosure. Mutation carriers who incorrectly identified their CRC risk were more likely to have had lower levels of pretest subjective risk perception compared with those who correctly identified their level of risk.[31] Another study reported that accuracy of estimating colorectal and endometrial cancer risk improved after disclosure of mutation status in carriers and noncarriers.[32]

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