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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Genetic counseling, cancer screening, breast cancer characteristics, and general health among a diverse population of BRCA genetic testers.

  • Author(s): Beattie, Mary S
  • Copeland, Kelli
  • Fehniger, Julia
  • Cheung, Eleanor
  • Joseph, Galen
  • Lee, Robin
  • Luce, Judith
  • et al.

Outcomes after genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome have not been well studied in underserved populations. We surveyed 1,123 BRCA testers from a genetic counseling program serving an academic cancer center (n=1,045) and a public county hospital (n=78) a median of 3.7 years after testing for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 (breast cancer susceptibility genes). We compared genetic counseling outcomes, cancer screening rates, and self-reported general health. We found no differences in genetic counseling outcomes between hospitals. Breast cancer screening rates were similarly high at both hospitals, which are warranted in this high-risk population. Screening rates for ovarian, colon, and skin cancer were significantly lower in participants from the public hospital. BRCA results were not a predictor of general health at either hospital. When creating a genetic counseling program that serves women in different hospital settings, providers should emphasize guidelines-based screening recommendations for all patients.

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