Long-term outcomes of BRCA1/BRCA2 testing: risk reduction and surveillance

Cancer. 2012 Jan 15;118(2):510-7. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26294. Epub 2011 Jun 29.


Background: For BRCA1/BRCA2 gene testing to benefit public health, mutation carriers must initiate appropriate risk management strategies. There has been little research examining the long-term use and prospective predictors of the full range of risk management behaviors among women who have undergone BRCA1/2 testing. We evaluated long-term uptake and predictors of risk-reducing mastectomy (RRM), risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (RRBSO), chemoprevention, and cancer screening among women at a mean of 5.3 years after testing.

Methods: The study participants comprised 465 women who underwent BRCA1/2 testing. Prior to genetic counseling, we measured family/personal cancer history, sociodemographics, perceived risk, cancer-specific distress, and general distress. We contacted patients at a mean of 5.3 years after testing to measure use of RRM, RRBSO, chemoprevention, and breast and ovarian cancer screening.

Results: Among participants with intact breasts and/or ovaries at the time of testing, BRCA1/2 carriers were significantly more likely to obtain RRM (37%) and RRBSO (65%) compared with women who received uninformative (RRM, 6.8%; RRBSO, 13.3%) or negative (RRM, 0%; RRBSO, 1.9%) results. Among carriers, precounseling anxiety was associated with subsequent uptake of RRM. RRO was predicted by age. Carriers were also more likely have used breast cancer chemoprevention and have undergone magnetic resonance imaging screening.

Conclusion: This prospective evaluation of the uptake and predictors of long-term management outcomes provides a clearer picture of decision making in this population. At a mean of 5.3 years after testing, more than 80% of carriers had obtained RRM, RRBSO, or both, suggesting that BRCA1/2 testing is likely to have a favorable effect on breast and ovarian cancer outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Genetic Testing
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mastectomy
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ovariectomy
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Salpingectomy


  • Antineoplastic Agents