BRCA1/2 testing in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families II: Impact on relationships

Medical Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute/NIH, Bldg. 10, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A (Impact Factor: 2.16). 03/2005; 133A(2):165-9. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.a.30566
Source: PubMed


Members of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) families often express concern during genetic counseling about the impact of BRCA1/2 testing on close relatives. Yet whether there are likely to be adverse effects of either the decision to undergo genetic testing or the results of testing on family relationships is unknown. One purpose of this study was to assess the impact on close family relationships. Within a randomized trial of breast cancer genetic counseling methods, members of 13 HBOC families were offered BRCA1/2 testing for a known family mutation. The Family Relationship Index (FRI) of the Family Environment Scale (FES) was used to measure perceived family cohesion, conflict, and expressiveness at baseline and again 6-9 months following the receipt of test results, or at the equivalent time for those who declined testing. Participants (n = 212) completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires. Comparisons were made between testers and non-testers as well as between those who tested positive and negative for the family mutation. One hundred eighty-one participants elected to undergo genetic testing (85%) and 47 (26%) were identified to have a mutation. After adjusting for baseline family relationship scores, counseling intervention, gender and marital status, non-testers reported a greater increase in expressiveness (P = 0.006) and cohesion (P = 0.04) than testers. Individuals who tested positive reported a decrease in expressiveness (P = 0.07), although as a trend. Regardless of test decision or test result, those who were randomized to a client-centered counseling intervention reported a decrease in conflict (P = 0.006). Overall, study results suggest that undergoing genetic testing and learning ones BRCA1/2 status may affect family relationships. Those individuals who declined testing reported feeling closer to family members and more encouraged to express emotions to other family members demonstrating potential benefit from the offer of testing. Since those who tested positive reported feeling less encouraged to express their emotions within the family, we recommend helping clients to identify others with whom they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings about their positive gene status and increased cancer risk.

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    • "Disclosure of sensitive genetic risk information to relatives can have a negative impact on relationships (as some family members may prefer not to know or become extremely worried). Some families decrease their open expressiveness (McInerney-Leo et al., 2005), whereas others grow closer through sharing the information with their children (Segal et al., 2004). Family-focused interventions can result in decreased conflict and improved relationships (McInerney-Leo et al., 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: Recorded conversations between women undergoing BRCA genetic counseling with clinicians (N = 16) and follow-up consultation letters (N = 16) were analyzed to determine how and when communicating genetic risk information to women's adolescent daughters is discussed. Themes from conversations included mothers' worries about their daughters, perceptions of their daughters' coping, educational information, and clinicians' willingness or reluctance to communicate directly with daughters about their genetic risk. Letters referred to daughters when informing mothers about autosomal dominant inheritance patterns, psychosocial considerations, and screening recommendations. Results inform the value of educating mothers about how they might discuss these issues with their adolescent daughters.
    Journal of Psychosocial Oncology 07/2012; 30(4):484-502. DOI:10.1080/07347332.2012.684855 · 1.04 Impact Factor
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    • "Genetic testing, however, is expensive and may be associated with adverse psychological effects not only to the patient but also family members [9, 10]. Family history of breast cancer is not uncommon, but BRCA mutations are relatively rare. "
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    ABSTRACT: BRCA1/2 mutation prediction models (BRCAPRO, Myriad II, Couch, Shattuck-Eidens, BOADICEA) are well established in western cohorts to estimate the probability of BRCA1/2 mutations. Results are conflicting in Asian populations. Most studies did not account for gender-specific prediction. We evaluated the performance of these models in a Chinese cohort, including males, before BRCA1/2 mutation testing. The five risk models were used to calculate the probability of BRCA mutations in probands with breast and ovarian cancers; 267 were non-BRCA mutation carriers (247 females and 20 males) and 43 were BRCA mutation carriers (38 females and 5 males). Mean BRCA prediction scores for all models were statistically better for carriers than noncarriers for females but not for males. BRCAPRO overestimated the numbers of female BRCA1/2 mutation carriers at thresholds ≥20% but underestimated if <20%. BRCAPRO and BOADICEA underestimated the number of male BRCA1/2 mutation carriers whilst Myriad II underestimated the number of both male and female carriers. In females, BRCAPRO showed similar discrimination, as measured by the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) for BRCA1/2 combined mutation prediction to BOADICEA, but performed better than BOADICEA in BRCA1 mutation prediction (AUC 93% vs. 87%). BOADICEA had the best discrimination for BRCA1/2 combined mutation prediction (AUC 87%) in males. The variation in model performance underscores the need for research on larger Asian cohorts as prediction models, and the possible need for customizing these models for different ethnic groups and genders.
    World Journal of Surgery 01/2012; 36(4):702-13. DOI:10.1007/s00268-011-1406-y · 2.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hayat Roshanai, A. 2010. Psychological and Behavioral Aspects of Receiving Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Cancer. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences 59. 105 pp. Uppsala. ISBN 978-91-554-7845-2. The overall aims of this thesis were to investigate psychological and behavioral effects of receiving cancer genetic counseling for breast, ovarian and colorectal cancer and/or with a family history of these cancer types and to determine whether counselees' informational needs were met. Study I was performed 3-7 years post-counseling. Participants (n=214) reported a relatively high level of anxiety but a low level of depression compared to cancer patients in general. However, there was no indication that the distress experienced was due to the counseling. Moderate changes in life and family relations, high level of adherence to recommended controls and satisfaction was reported. Study II was a randomized control trial (RCT) intervention study which involved 147 counselees. An increase in the level of knowledge and correct estimation of personal risk was reported in both the intervention and control groups, although this increase declined at later follow-up. Enhanced information led to significantly greater satisfaction with the given information, and the way of informing relatives. Most counselees had shared information with their at-risk relatives. Study III focused on sharing information with at-risk relatives among participants in study II and their relatives (n=81). Counselees were interviewed and answered a questionnaire, whilst their relatives only answered the questionnaire. Counselees reported positive/neutral feelings about communicating genetic information and mostly interpreted their relatives' reactions as positive/ neutral. Also, approximately 50% of relatives reported positive/neutral reactions and were generally satisfied with the received information. Study IV was conducted in Sweden and Norway based on 235 counselees. Counselees expected counselors to be skillful and thoughtful, take them seriously and provide risk estimations and medical information. Most important issues to counselees were satisfactorily addressed by the counselors. Analyzing importance rankings resulted in five categories of needs: a need for facts, caring communication and medical information, need for understanding and support in sharing genetic information, practical care and medical/practical information. In conclusion, no adverse psychological or behavioral effect on counselees was observed. Apparently, genetic counseling is managed properly and counselors successfully address counselees' needs. Providing extended information does not seem necessary, however, tailoring information to individual counselees needs may create a more effective counseling.
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