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Few women at high-risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer receive genetic counseling
Date:5/8/2014

Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for nearly 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers and most hereditary ovarian cancers, yet a study by cancer prevention and control researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center suggests an alarmingly small amount of women who qualify for BRCA genetic counseling actually receive the services. Additionally, they found that a significant proportion of women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer underestimate their own risk.

The study, published in the April edition of the Journal of Community Genetics, collected data from 486 women over the course of two years. Of these women, 22 met the criteria to be referred for BRCA counseling. However, only one of the women reported receiving genetic counseling and only one reported prior genetic testing. And while perceived risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer was higher among high-risk women, 27 percent of high-risk women felt their risk was "low," and 32 percent felt their risk was "lower than average." Despite having a diverse population, the researchers did not find any significant differences associated with factors such as age, race, family size or the patient's knowledge of genetic testing.

"Despite recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force that primary care physicians screen for hereditary cancer risk, it seems that too few women who meet the eligibility criteria are actually following through with BRCA counseling services," says the study's lead investigator John Quillin, Ph.D., M.P.H., member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program and genetic counselor in the Familial Cancer Clinic at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and assistant professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics in the VCU School of Medicine. "Unfortunately, this means that a significant number of women who are at high-risk for developing breast and ovarian
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Contact: John Wallace
wallacej@vcu.edu
804-628-1550
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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