Women's attitudes toward preventive strategies for hereditary breast or ovarian carcinoma differ from one country to another: differences among English, French, and Canadian women

Cancer. 2001 Aug 15;92(4):959-68. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010815)92:4<959::aid-cncr1406>3.0.co;2-v.


Background: The authors investigated the acceptability to women of the preventive strategies available for dealing with hereditary breast/ovarian carcinoma in France, the United Kingdom, and Canada, countries selected because of their cultural differences. The authors aimed to discover the existence of specific factors that may affect acceptability of these preventative measures.

Methods: A cross-sectional, multicenter survey was conducted in Marseilles, France (n = 141), in Manchester, England (n = 130), and in Montreal, Quebec (n = 84). All of the women attending cancer genetic clinics for the first time because of a family history of breast-ovarian carcinoma completed a self-administered questionnaire before their clinic consultation.

Results: Variations in responses to different preventative options presented on the questionnaire were seen within the sample of patients considered as a whole. The highest levels of acceptability were obtained for mammographic screening (87%) and chemoprevention (58%). In contrast, prophylactic oophorectomy and prophylactic mastectomy were thought to be acceptable at an early age (before 35 years), an age associated with the highest prophylactic efficacy, by only 19% and 16% of the respondents, respectively. After multivariate adjustment, the statistical data showed that the British respondents were more in favor of oophorectomy (P < 0.0001) and more in favor of chemoprevention than the French (P < 0.001) and the Canadian respondents (P < 0.001). The British (overall adjusted response [OR(adj)] = 3.9; P < 0.001) and Canadian respondents (OR(adj) = 3; P < 0.01) were more in favor of prophylactic mastectomy than the French. The cumulated acceptability of mammography before the age of 40 years was found to be greater in the French (OR(adj) = 2.8; P < 0.01) and Canadian (OR(adj) = 3.1; P < 0.05) samples than in the British sample.

Conclusion: These results demonstrated the existence of international variations in the acceptability of the preventive strategies available for women at risk for hereditary breast/ovarian carcinoma. Therefore, these results suggested that when establishing medical recommendations or planning public health interventions, physicians must integrate the population's perception of advantages and drawbacks with the patient's individual decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Attitude*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Breast Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Canada
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • England
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Mastectomy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Ovariectomy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antineoplastic Agents