Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 241–260 | Cite as

Risk Assessment and Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors

  • Janice L. BerlinerEmail author
  • Angela Musial Fay
Professional Issues


These cancer genetic counseling recommendations describe the medical, psychosocial and ethical implications of identifying at-risk individuals for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) through cancer risk assessment, with or without genetic susceptibility testing. They were developed by members of the Practice Issues Subcommittee of the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Familial Cancer Risk Counseling Special Interest Group. The information contained in this document is derived from extensive review of the current literature on cancer genetic risk assessment as well as the professional expertise of genetic counselors with significant experience in education and counseling regarding hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Critical components of the process include the ascertainment of medical and family histories, determination and communication of cancer risk, assessment of risk perception, education regarding the genetics of HBOC, discussion of molecular testing for HBOC if appropriate (including benefits, risks and limitations) and any necessary follow-up. These recommendations do not dictate an exclusive course of management or guarantee a specific outcome. Moreover, they do not replace the professional judgment of a health care provider based on the clinical situation of a client.


BRCA1 BRCA2 Hereditary breast cancer Hereditary ovarian cancer Cancer genetic counseling Risk assessment Genetic testing Family history Psychosocial assessment Medical management 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the following individuals for their careful review and comments on drafts of this article: Michelle Martin, MS and Aimee Walter, MS of Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc., Dr. Sue Friedman (Executive Director of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered); Nettie Beyer, RN (Hematology/Oncology Clinic Coordinator and BRCA Carrier); Dr. Mary Claire King; Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade; Dr. Wendy S. Rubinstein; Cecelia Bellcross; Kathleen Blazer; Donna Blumenthal; Joann Bodurtha; Heather Creswick; Shelly Cummings; Agnes Masny; John Quillin; Courtney Rowe-Teeter; Jeff Shaw and Jill Stopfer. We also thank members of the NSGC Genetic Services Committee and the Ethics Subcommittee.

At the time of publication and during the development of these recommendations, two of the authors (A.W. and M.M.) were employed by Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc. While the above NSGC recommendations do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of any corporate entity, the authors acknowledge the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Barnabas Medical CenterLivingstonUSA
  2. 2.Meridian HealthBrickUSA

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