The aim of this multi-centre UK study is to examine the attributes of a cohort offered predictive genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer predisposition. Participants are adults unaffected with cancer from families with a known BRCA1/2 mutation. This is the first large multi-centre study of this population in the UK. The study evaluates mental health, perceived risk of developing cancer, preferred risk management options, and motivation for genetic testing. Participants were assessed when coming forward for genetic counselling prior to proceeding to genetic testing. Three hundred and twelve individuals, 76% of whom are female, from nine UK centres participated in the study. There are no gender differences in rates of psychiatric morbidity. Younger women (<50 years) are more worried about developing cancer than older women. Few women provide accurate figures for the population risk of breast (37%) or ovarian (6%) cancer but most think that they are at higher risk of developing breast (88%) and ovarian (69%) cancer than the average woman. Cancer related worry is not associated with perceived risk or uptake of risk management options except breast self-examination. The findings indicate that younger women may be particularly vulnerable at the time of the offer of a predictive genetic test.
Copyright 2002 Cancer Research UK