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Breast Cancer Risk Assessment at the Time of Screening Mammography: Perceptions and Clinical Management Outcomes for Women at High Risk

  • Original Research
  • Published:
Journal of Genetic Counseling


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of a breast cancer risk assessment (BCRA) at the time of screening mammogram. Women whose BCRA indicated a high risk for cancer received a letter with instructions for breast health care and genetic counseling if appropriate. After 6 months this group received surveys to evaluate their risk perception and their recall of, and compliance with, recommendations. We also explored the impact of other variables such as a recommendation for genetic counseling and physician communication with the women. After the BCRA, the majority of high risk women reported no change in their perceived risk of cancer. A woman’s perceived risk of cancer after a BCRA was significantly associated with her recall of recommendations for breast health care, but not with compliance. A recommendation for genetic counseling was not significantly related to women’s perceived risk of cancer after the BCRA. Ten percent of women who should have obtained genetic counseling actually completed an appointment. Women who discussed their BCRA results with their physicians were more compliant with a six month breast exam with a doctor (53% vs 17%, p = 0.018). Overall, women felt that the BCRA was helpful and did not cause undue stress or anxiety. Although the cohort’s compliance with recommendations was suboptimal, physicians’ interactions with their patients may have a positive influence on their compliance.

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The authors would like to thank Carolyn Taylor and Michelle Hall for their editing contributions.

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Correspondence to Nichole A. Morman.

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Conflict of Interest

Nichole A. Morman, Lindsey Byrne, Christy Collins, Kelly Reynolds, and Jeffrey G. Bell declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human Studies and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all women for being included in the study.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Morman, N.A., Byrne, L., Collins, C. et al. Breast Cancer Risk Assessment at the Time of Screening Mammography: Perceptions and Clinical Management Outcomes for Women at High Risk. J Genet Counsel 26, 776–784 (2017).

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