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Study looks at psychological impact of gene test for breast cancer
Date:10/2/2008

Personal beliefs about inconclusive DNA testing for hereditary breast cancer are associated with cancer-related worry, and such beliefs are an especially strong predictor of whether women had been able to leave the period of DNA-testing behind, reports a study in the October issue of Genetics in Medicine, official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG). The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

Published during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the study lends new insights into how women cope with the results of BRCA testing for hereditary breast canceran increasingly used genetic test in which an "inconclusive" result is common.

Sandra van Dijk, M.A., Ph.D., of Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands, assessed psychological adjustment in 215 women who underwent DNA testing for BRCA gene mutations associated with hereditary breast cancer. Of these, 147 womenmore than two-thirds of the totalhad inconclusive results. The results were positive in 37 women and "true negative" in 31.

Several Factors Affect Adjustment to Uncertainty

An inconclusive result on BRCA testing means the woman carries no genetic mutation currently known to increase breast cancer risk. However, she may still be at increased risk because of unrecognized mutations, or because of other risk factors associated with familial breast cancer. Of women in the study with inconclusive results, about half were still considered to have more than a 30 percent residual risk of a cancer-causing mutation.

When re-evaluated after four years, none of the three groups had "adverse psychological consequences" of BRCA testing, the researchers write. Not surprisingly, women with negative results had the lowest rates of worry and cancer-related distress. For women with inconclusive results, levels of worry and distress were similar to those who tested positive for a
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Contact: Kathy Ridgely Beal
kbeal@acmg.net
301-238-4582
American College of Medical Genetics
Source:Eurekalert

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