[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pilot study to evaluate whether the use of a standardized questionnaire to document family history of cancer improves identification of women who warrant referral to cancer genetic services (CGS) for increased risk of hereditary cancer, compared to their identification in usual care. Prospective intervention study with historic control group. Gynecology outpatient clinic, Maastricht University Medical Centre, the Netherlands. The prospective intervention group consisted of new outpatients between June 1 and August 1, 2011. The historic control group consisted of new outpatients between May 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010. A standardized questionnaire based on established referral criteria for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer and Lynch syndrome was completed for the intervention group. The referral rate in routine consultation, based on non-standardized family history recording, was determined retrospectively for the control group. The difference in referral rate between intervention and control group, tested by Chi square test. In the control group, 8 of 3,036 women (0.26 %) were referred to CGS. In the intervention group, 209 (42 %) of 500 screening questionnaires were completed. Nineteen women (9, 1 %) met the referral guidelines, of which 5 were newly referred to CGS (2, 4 %). Referral rates differed significantly (p < 0.001) between the two groups. This pilot study shows that the routine use of a screening questionnaire may improve detection and referral rate to CGS of individuals at risk for hereditary cancer. Improving genetic literacy of physicians and use of web-site questionnaires deserve attention in future studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: How do couples with a BRCA1/2 mutation decide on preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and prenatal diagnosis (PND) for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC)?
BRCA couples primarily classify PGD and/or PND as reproductive options based on the perceived severity of HBOC and moral considerations, and consequently weigh the few important advantages of PGD against numerous smaller disadvantages.
Awareness of PGD is generally low among persons at high risk for hereditary cancers. Most persons with HBOC are in favour of offering PGD for BRCA1/2 mutations, although only a minority would consider this option for themselves. Studies exploring the motivations for using or refraining from PGD among well-informed BRCA carriers of reproductive age are lacking. We studied the reproductive decision-making process by interviewing a group of well-informed, reproductive aged couples carrying a BRCA1/2 mutation, regarding their decisional motives and considerations.
This exploratory, qualitative study investigated the motives and considerations taken into account by couples with a BRCA1/2 mutation and who have received extensive counselling on PGD and PND and have made a well-informed decision regarding this option. Eighteen couples took part in focus group and dyadic interviews between January and September 2012.
Semi-structured focus groups were conducted containing two to four couples, assembled based on the reproductive method the couple had chosen: PGD (n = 6 couples) or conception without testing (n = 8 couples). Couples who had chosen PND for BRCA (n = 4) were interviewed dyadically. Two of the women, of whom one had chosen PND and the other had chosen no testing, had a history of breast cancer.
None of the couples who opted for PGD or conception without testing found the use of PND, with possible pregnancy termination, acceptable. PND users chose this method because of decisive, mainly practical reasons (natural conception, high chance of favourable outcome). Motives and considerations regarding PGD largely overlapped between PGD users, PND users and non-users, all mentioning some significant advantages (e.g. protecting the child and family from the mutation) and many smaller disadvantages (e.g. the necessity of in vitro fertilization (IVF), low chance of pregnancy by IVF/PGD). For female carriers, the safety of hormonal stimulation and the time required for PGD before undergoing preventive surgeries were important factors in the decision. Non-users expressed doubts about the moral justness of their decision afterwards and emphasized the impact the decision still had on their lives.
The interviewed couples were at different stages in their chosen trajectory, up to 3 years after completion. This may have led to recall bias of original motives and considerations. Couples who did not actively seek information about PGD were excluded. Therefore the results may not be readily generalizable to all BRCA couples.
The perceived severity of HBOC and, for female carriers, the safety of hormonal stimulation and the time frames for PGD planning before preventive surgeries are essential items BRCA couples consider in reproductive decision-making. The emotional impact of this decision should not be underestimated; especially non-users may experience feelings of doubt or guilt up to several years afterwards. PGD counselling with tailored information addressing these items and decisional support in order to guarantee well-informed decision-making is needed.
This study was funded by the Dutch breast cancer foundation Stichting Pink Ribbon, grant number 2010.PS11.C74. None of the authors have competing interests to declare.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a method of testing in vitro embryos as an alternative to prenatal diagnosis with possible termination of pregnancy in case of an affected child. Recently, PGD for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations has found its way in specialized labs. We describe the route to universal single-cell PGD tests for carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations. Originally, mutation-specific protocols with one or two markers were set up and changed when new couples were not informative. This route of changing protocols was finalized after 2 years with universal tests for both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers based on haplotyping of, respectively, 6 (BRCA1) and 8 (BRCA2) microsatellite markers in a multiplex PCR. Using all protocols, 30 couples had a total of 47 PGD cycles performed. Eight cycles were cancelled upon IVF treatment due to hypostimulation. Of the remaining 39 cycles, a total of 261 embryos were biopsied and a genetic diagnosis was obtained in 244 (93%). In 34 of the 39 cycles (84.6%), an embryo transfer was possible and resulted in 8 pregnancies leading to a fetal heart beat per oocyte retrieval of 20.5% and a fetal heart beat per embryonic transfer of 23.5%. The preparation time and costs for set-up and validation of tests are minimized. The informativity of microsatellite markers used in the universal PGD-PCR tests is based on CEPH and deCODE pedigrees, making the tests applicable in 90% of couples coming from these populations.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 27 March 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.50.
European journal of human genetics: EJHG 03/2013; · 3.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pheochromocytomas (PCC) and paragangliomas (PGL) are genetically heterogeneous neural crest-derived neoplasms. Recently we identified germline mutations in a new tumor suppressor susceptibility gene, MAX (MYC-associated factor X), which predisposes carriers to PCC. How MAX mutations contribute to PCC/PGL and associated phenotypes remain unclear. This study aimed to examine the prevalence and associated phenotypic features of germline and somatic MAX mutations in PCC/PGL. Design: We sequenced MAX in 1,694 patients with PCC or PGL (without mutations in other major susceptibility genes) from 17 independent referral centers. We screened for large deletions/duplications in 1,535 patients using a multiplex PCR-based method. Somatic mutations were searched for in tumors from an additional 245 patients. The frequency and type of MAX mutation was assessed overall and by clinical characteristics.
Sixteen MAX pathogenic mutations were identified in 23 index patients. All had adrenal tumors, including 13 bilateral or multiple PCCs within the same gland (P < 0.001), 15.8% developed additional tumors at thoracoabdominal sites, and 37% had familial antecedents. Age at diagnosis was lower (P = 0.001) in MAX mutation carriers compared with nonmutated cases. Two patients (10.5%) developed metastatic disease. A mutation affecting MAX was found in five tumors, four of them confirmed as somatic (1.65%). MAX tumors were characterized by substantial increases in normetanephrine, associated with normal or minor increases in metanephrine.
Germline mutations in MAX are responsible for 1.12% of PCC/PGL in patients without evidence of other known mutations and should be considered in the genetic work-up of these patients.
Clinical Cancer Research 03/2012; 18(10):2828-37. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite extensive analysis of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, germline mutations are detected in <20% of families with a presumed genetic predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer. Recent literature reported RAD51C as a new breast cancer susceptibility gene. In this study, we report the analysis of 410 patients from 351 unrelated pedigrees. All were referred for genetic testing and we selected families with at least one reported case of ovarian cancer in which BRCA1&2 mutations were previously ruled out. We analyzed the coding exons, intron-exons boundaries, and UTRs of RAD51C. Our mutation analysis did not reveal any unequivocal deleterious mutation. In total 12 unique sequence variations were identified of which two were novel. Our study and others suggest a low prevalence of RAD51C mutations with an exception for some founder populations. This observation is in favor of the rare allele hypothesis in the debate over the nature of the genetic contribution to individual susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer and further genome-wide studies in high risk families are warranted.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 02/2012; 133(1):393-8. · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic counseling may help counselees understand their genetic risk of developing breast/ovarian cancer. However, many studies have shown that their perception of their risks is inaccurate. Information-oriented variables often predicted the level of accuracy, focusing on specific processes of receiving and processing risks. We examined counselee-oriented predictors about how counselees embed cancer risks in their lives. These predictors reflect the personal meaning of genetic risks and are expected to explain/mediate the impact of genetic counseling on risk-perception-accuracy.
We analyzed 248 questionnaires of a prospective study, filled in by probands with breast/ovarian cancer and pathogenic mutations, unclassified variants, or uninformative results (n = 30, 16, and 202, respectively). Mediation regression analyses were performed to examine whether counselee predictors mediated/explained the influence of information predictors on the accuracy. Information-oriented predictors regarded presentation format, communicated information, question format, education, pedigree information, cancer experience, and cognitive processes/heuristics. Counselee-oriented predictors regarded their self/personality, life/existence, and need for certainty about DNA test result, heredity, and cancer.
Both information-oriented and counselee-oriented variables significantly predicted the accuracy of the counselees' risk perception, with moderate to large effect sizes. Counselee-oriented variables completely mediated/explained the effects of information-oriented variables on the accuracy.
Counselees seemed to transform objective cancer risks into personally relevant information. Only through this personal meaning of genetic information, information-oriented processes seemed to cause inaccurate perceptions. Genetic counselors are suggested to focus communication on these personal processes.
Genetics in medicine: official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 09/2011; 13(9):800-11. · 3.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies suggest that learning a DNA-test-result has no direct impact on the medical-decisions and psychological well-being of counselees. Their perception, especially their recollections and interpretations of their cancer-risks and heredity, predict and/or mediate this impact. These studies were criticized for their small range of predictors, mediators, outcomes and contextual factors. We studied the short-term impact of DNA-testing with an extended model.
Three months after disclosure of BRCA1/2-test-results, we sent counselees a questionnaire about their perception, medical and psychological outcomes, and medical, familial and psychological contexts. 248 affected women participated; 30 had received pathogenic-mutations, 16 unclassified-variants and 202 uninformative-results.
The actually communicated genetic-information and the contextual variables predicted the counselees' perception, but did not directly predict any outcomes. The counselees' perception predicted and/or completely mediated the counselees' medical intentions and behavior, physical and psychological life-changes, stigma, mastery, negativity and cancer-worries. Short-term distress was related to the perception not only of their own risks, but also of their relatives' risks and heredity-likelihood. Effect sizes were medium to large.
The outcomes of DNA-testing were better predicted by the counselees' perception than by the actually given genetic-information. We recommend genetic-counselors to have tailored, interactive dialogues about the counselees' perception.
Patient Education and Counseling 06/2011; 86(2):239-51. · 2.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Li Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) and Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) are two rare hereditary tumor syndromes, characterized by a high risk of developing multiple tumors at various sites and ages for which preventive and treatment options are limited. For partners, it may be difficult to deal with the on-going threat of tumors in both their spouse and children. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the prevalence of and factors associated with psychological distress among partners of individuals with or at high risk of LFS or VHL.
As part of a nationwide, cross-sectional study, partners of individuals diagnosed with or at high risk of LFS or VHL were invited to complete a self-report questionnaire assessing distress, worries, and health-related quality of life.
Fifty-five (58%) of those high-risk individuals with a partner consented to having their partner approached for the study. In total, 50 partners (91%) completed the questionnaire, of whom 28% reported clinically relevant levels of syndrome-related distress. Levels of distress and worries of the partners and their high-risk spouse were significantly correlated. Younger age and a lack of social support were also associated significantly with heightened levels of distress and worries. The majority of partners (76%) believed that professional psychosocial support should be routinely offered to them.
Approximately one-quarter of the partners exhibit clinically relevant levels of distress that warrant psychological support. The distress levels of the 'patient' could potentially be used to identify partners at risk of developing clinically relevant levels of distress.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess compliance with a periodic surveillance regimen for Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
In this nationwide study, Von Hippel-Lindau disease mutation carriers and those at 50% risk were invited to complete a questionnaire assessing (compliance with) advice given for periodic surveillance. Medical record data on compliance with recommended radiologic surveillance examinations were also collected.
Of the 84 (77%) participants, 78 indicated having received advice to undergo periodic surveillance. Of these, 71 reported being fully compliant with that advice. In 64% of the cases, this advice was only partially consistent with published guidelines. Based on medical record data, between one quarter and one third of individuals did not undergo surveillance as recommended in the guidelines for central nervous system lesions and one half for visceral lesions. Screening delay for central nervous system lesions was significantly higher in one hospital and in those cases where "the advice given" deviated from the guidelines.
The majority of those with or at risk of Von Hippel-Lindau disease reported having received and being fully compliant with screening advice. However, in many cases, the advice given was only partially consistent with published guidelines, and screening delays were observed. Efforts should be undertaken to stimulate guideline-based surveillance advice and to minimize screening delay.
Genetics in medicine: official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 03/2011; 13(6):519-27. · 3.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies on the counsellees' perception of DNA test results did not clarify whether counsellees were asked about their recollections or interpretations, and focused only on patients' own risks and not on the likelihood that cancer is heritable in the family. We tested differences and correlations of four perception aspects: recollections and interpretations of both cancer risks and heredity likelihood. In a retrospective study, women tested for BRCA1/2 on average, 5 years ago, completed questionnaires about their perception. Participants had received an unclassified variant (n = 76), uninformative (n = 76) or pathogenic mutation (n = 51) result in BRCA1/2. Analyses included t-tests, correlations and structural equation modelling. The counsellees' perception showed to consist of four distinctive phenomena: recollections and interpretations of cancer risks and of heredity likelihood. This distinctiveness was suggested by significant differences between these perception variables. Moderate to strong correlations were found between these variables, suggesting that these differences between variables were consistent. The relationships between these variables were not influenced by actually communicated DNA test results, sociodemographics, medical and pedigree information, or framing of cancer risk questions. The largest differences between recollections and interpretations were found in the unclassified variant group and the smallest in uninformatives. Cancer risks and heredity likelihood correlated least in the pathogenic mutation group. Communication of ambiguous genetic information enlarged the differences. To understand the counsellees' perception of genetic counselling, researchers should study recollections and interpretations of cancer risks and heredity likelihood. Genetic counsellors should explicitly address the counsellees' recollections and interpretations, and be aware of possible inaccuracies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer in the general population. However, it is still unclear whether this association also exists in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. We investigated the association between self-reported anthropometric measures and breast cancer risk in a nationwide retrospective cohort study, including 719 BRCA1/2 carriers, of whom 218 had been diagnosed with breast cancer within 10 years prior to questionnaire completion. All time-varying Cox proportional hazards analyses were stratified by menopausal status. For premenopausal breast cancer, no statistically significant associations were observed for any of the anthropometric measures. The association between body mass index (BMI) at age 18 and premenopausal breast cancer risk suggested a trend of decreasing risk with increasing BMI (HR(22.50-24.99 vs. 18.50-22.49) = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.47-1.44 and HR(≥ 25.00 vs. 18.50-22.49) = 0.41, 95% CI = 0.13-1.27). For postmenopausal breast cancer, being 1.67 m and taller increased the risk 1.7-fold (HR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.01-2.74) when compared to a height <1.67 m. Compared with a current body weight < 72 kg, a current body weight of ≥ 72 kg increased the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer 2.1-fold (95% CI = 1.23-3.59). A current BMI of ≥ 25.0 kg/m², an adult weight gain of 5 kg or more, and a relative adult weight gain of 20% or more were all non-significantly associated with a 50-60% increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer [HR = 1.46 (0.86-2.51), HR = 1.56 (95% CI = 0.85-2.87), and HR = 1.60 (95% CI = 0.97-2.63), respectively], when compared with having a healthy or stable weight. No associations for body weight or BMI at age 18 were observed. In conclusion, menopausal status seemed to modify the association between body weight and breast cancer risk among BRCA1/2 carriers. We observed no clear association between body weight and premenopausal breast cancer, while overweight and weight gain increased postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Carriers may reduce their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 02/2011; 126(1):193-202. · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has been hypothesized that the Outcomes of DNA testing (O) are better predicted and/or mediated by the counselees' Perception P) than by the actually communicated genetic Information (I). In this study, we aimed at quantifying the effect that perception has in genetic counseling for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer.
Two hundred and four women, who had previously been tested for BRCA1/2, participated in a retrospective questionnaire study; 93% had cancer. Communicated Information (I) consisted of cancer risks and BRCA1/2 test result category: unclassified variant (n = 76), uninformative (n = 76), pathogenic mutation (n = 51). Four perception variables (P) were included: the counselees' recollections and interpretations of both the cancer risks and the likelihood that the cancer in their family is heritable. The Outcome variables (O) included life changes, counselees' medical decisions, BRCA-related self-concept, current psychological well-being, and quality-of-life. Bootstrap mediation analyses determined whether relationships were direct (I→O or P→O) or indirect through the mediation of perception (I→P→O).
The actually communicated pathogenic mutation and uninformative result directly predicted medical decisions (I→O), i.e. intended and performed surgery of breasts/ovaries. All other outcomes were only directly predicted by the counselees' perception (recollection and interpretation) of their cancer risks and heredity likelihood (P→O), or this perception mediated the outcome (I→P→O). However, this perception was significantly different from the actually communicated cancer risks (I→P). Unclassified variants were inaccurately perceived (mostly overestimated); this misperception predicted both psychological outcomes and radical medical decisions.
Genetic counselors need to explicitly address the counselee's interpretations and intended medical decisions. In case of misinterpretations, additional counseling might be offered. Communication of unclassified variants needs special attention given the pitfall of overestimation of risk.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BRCA1/2 mutation carriers have a high lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Differences in penetrance indicate that this
risk may be influenced by lifestyle factors. Because physical activity is one of the few modifiable risk factors, it may provide
a target to add to breast cancer prevention in this high-risk population. We examined the association between self-reported
lifetime sports activity and breast cancer risk in a nationwide retrospective cohort study, including 725 carriers, of whom
218 had been diagnosed with breast cancer within 10years prior to questionnaire completion. We found a nonsignificantly decreased
risk for ever engaging in sports activity (HR=0.84, 95%CI=0.57–1.24). Among women who had participated in sports, a medium
versus low level of intensity and duration (i.e., between 11.0 and 22.7 mean MET hours/week averaged over a lifetime) reduced
the risk of breast cancer (HR=0.59, 95%CI=0.36–0.95); no dose–response trend was observed. For mean hours/week of sports
activity, a nonsignificant trend was observed (HRlow versus never=0.93, 95%CI=0.60–1.43; HRmedium versus never=0.81, 95%CI=0.51–1.29; HRhigh versus never=0.78, 95%CI=0.48–1.29; p
trend overall=0.272; p
trend active women=0.487). For number of years of sports activity no significant associations were found. Among women active in sports before
age 30, mean MET hours/week showed the strongest inverse association of all activity measures (HRmedium versus low=0.60, 95%CI=0.38–0.96; HRhigh versus low=0.58, 95%CI=0.35–0.94; p
trend=0.053). Engaging in sports activity after age 30 was also inversely associated with breast cancer risk (HR=0.63, 95%CI=0.44–0.91).
Our results indicate that sports activity may reduce the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 02/2010; 120(1):235-244. · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Germline BRCA1 mutations predispose to breast cancer. To identify genetic modifiers of this risk, we performed a genome-wide association study in 1,193 individuals with BRCA1 mutations who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer under age 40 and 1,190 BRCA1 carriers without breast cancer diagnosis over age 35. We took forward 96 SNPs for replication in another 5,986 BRCA1 carriers (2,974 individuals with breast cancer and 3,012 unaffected individuals). Five SNPs on 19p13 were associated with breast cancer risk (P(trend) = 2.3 × 10⁻⁹ to P(trend) = 3.9 × 10⁻⁷), two of which showed independent associations (rs8170, hazard ratio (HR) = 1.26, 95% CI 1.17-1.35; rs2363956 HR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.80-0.89). Genotyping these SNPs in 6,800 population-based breast cancer cases and 6,613 controls identified a similar association with estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer (rs2363956 per-allele odds ratio (OR) = 0.83, 95% CI 0.75-0.92, P(trend) = 0.0003) and an association with estrogen receptor-positive disease in the opposite direction (OR = 1.07, 95% CI 1.01-1.14, P(trend) = 0.016). The five SNPs were also associated with triple-negative breast cancer in a separate study of 2,301 triple-negative cases and 3,949 controls (P(trend) = 1 × 10⁻⁷) to P(trend) = 8 × 10⁻⁵; rs2363956 per-allele OR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.74-0.87, P(trend) = 1.1 × 10⁻⁷