Background: The availability of a commercial test for the breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, has generated interest in both the medical community and the general public.
Methods: Patients and family members were approached in the waiting room and asked to fill out an anonymous questionnaire about their awareness of breast cancer genes and breast cancer gene testing, and their desire to be tested. chi2 analysis was used to analyze frequencies between groups.
Results: A total of 354 women completed a questionnaire concerning the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. The very young, the very old, and African-Americans were the least informed in terms of awareness of the genes and the availability of testing for the breast cancer susceptibility genes. Jewish people, people with a college education or beyond, people earning more than $30,000 a year, and Caucasians were more aware of the genes and of testing for these genes. Interest in being tested was similar in all groups, except for participants over 60 and those who had only an elementary-school education.
Conclusions: Information concerning the breast cancer susceptibility genes has not reached the general public uniformly. A concerted effort is needed if this information is to be passed on to those people at risk.