Genetic testing for inherited breast cancer risk in African Americans

Cancer Invest. 2005;23(4):285-95. doi: 10.1081/cnv-58819.

Abstract

As genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) mutations is increasingly integrated into the clinical management of high-risk women, it will be important to understand barriers and motivations for genetic counseling among women from underserved minority groups to ensure equitable access to these services. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to synthesize literature on knowledge and attitudes about genetic counseling and testing for inherited breast cancer risk in African Americans. We also review studies that evaluated genetic testing intentions in this population. We conducted a search of the PubMed database to identify studies related to BRCA1/2 testing in African Americans that were published between 1995 and 2003. Overall, studies have evaluated ethnic differences in knowledge and attitudes about genetic testing or have compared African American and Caucasian women in terms of genetic testing intentions. These studies have shown that knowledge about breast cancer genetics and exposure to information about the availability of testing is low among African Americans, whereas expectations about the benefits of genetic testing are endorsed highly. However, much less is known about the psychological and behavioral impact of genetic testing for BRCA1/2 mutations in African Americans. Additional research is needed to understand barriers and motivations for participating in genetic testing for inherited cancer risk in African Americans. The lack of studies on psychological functioning, cancer surveillance, and preventive behaviors following testing is a significant void; however, for these studies to be conducted, greater access to genetic counseling and testing in African Americans will be needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blacks / genetics*
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • United States