Effects of genetic consultation on perception of a family risk of breast/ovarian cancer and determinants of inaccurate perception after the consultation

J Clin Epidemiol. 2002 Jul;55(7):665-75. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(02)00401-8.


The aim of this study was to assess the effects of cancer genetic consultations on women's perception of their family risk of breast/ovarian cancer, and to determine which factors were associated with an inaccurate perception after the consultation. A multicenter prospective survey was carried out on women (n = 397) attending cancer genetic clinics in France for the first time, in which the perceived family risk was measured both before and after the consultation, using self-administered questionnaires. The effects of the consultation on risk perception were significant among low (P <.001) and moderate risk women (P <.05). However, after the consultation, 76.3% of the "low"-risk women did not perceive their family as "low"-risk families, and 21.9% of the moderate-risk women were still definitely sure there was a genetic risk running in their family. The consultation did not affect the family risk perception of the high risk women (n = 171): the risk was thought to be very high both before (87.7%) and after (89.5%) the consultation (NS); however 10.5% of this group still perceived their family as being unlikely to be at risk after the consultation. In the low- and moderate-risk groups after multivariate adjustment, the inaccurate perceptions varied, depending on the clinics and on the psychosocial context of the consultation: they increased when the consultee was personally affected by cancer, and decreased when the consultee had a health occupation. Cancer genetic consultations had only marginal effects on the perception of family risk on the whole, although they were significant in the case of low- and moderate-risk women. The question arises as to whether a more comprehensive approach should be implemented and how to go about providing efficient cancer risk information in the context of health care systems.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors