Predictive genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer: psychological distress and illness representations 1 year following disclosure

J Genet Couns. 2005 Oct;14(5):349-63. doi: 10.1007/s10897-005-1371-4.


This prospective study evaluates emotional functioning and illness representations in 68 unaffected women (34 carriers/34 noncarriers) 1 year after predictive testing for BRCA1/2 mutations when offered within a multidisciplinary approach. Carriers had higher subjective risk perception of breast cancer than noncarriers. Carriers who did not have prophylactic oophorectomy had the highest risk perception of ovarian cancer. No differences were found between carriers and noncarriers regarding perceived seriousness and perceived control of breast and ovarian cancer. Mean levels of distress were within normal ranges. Only few women showed an overall pattern of clinically elevated distress. Cancer-specific distress and state-anxiety significantly decreased in noncarriers from pre- to posttest while general distress remained about the same. There were no significant changes in distress in the group of carriers except for ovarian cancer distress which significantly decreased from pre- to posttest. Our study did not reveal adverse effects of predictive testing when offered in the context of a multidisciplinary approach.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Disclosure*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genetic Counseling / methods
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies