Women's Understanding of Their Risk of Developing Breast/Ovarian Cancer Before and After Genetic Counseling
Many studies have reported that individuals frequently over- or underestimate their risk of developing cancer both before and after they attend genetic counseling for breast and/or ovarian cancer. Using a combination of interviews and written questionnaires, we investigated counselees' understanding of their risk of developing cancer before and after genetic counseling. We demonstrate that although 76% of the sample thought that their risk was elevated relative to women in general, only a small proportion (17%) were willing or able to provide a numerical estimate of their risk of developing cancer before they attended the clinic. Following the consultation, 43% indicated that their risk of developing cancer was lower than they had anticipated. Twenty-two percent described their risk in absolute rather than relative terms, i.e., that they would definitely (not) develop cancer in the future. The implications of these findings for further research are discussed.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Evans DGR, Blair V, Greenhalgh R, Hopwood P, Howell A (1994) The impact of genetic counseling on risk perception in women with a family history of breast cancer. B J Cancer. 70:934–938.Google Scholar
- Gagnon P, Massie MJ, Kash KM, Gronert M, Simkovich Heerdt A, Brown K, Sullivan MD, Borgen, P (1996) Perception of breast cancer risk and psychological distress in women attending a surveillance program. Psychol-Oncol 5:259–269.Google Scholar
- Hallowell N, Richards MPM (1997) Understanding life's lottery: An evaluation of studies of genetic risk awareness. J Health Psychol 2:31–43.Google Scholar
- Julian-Reyneir C, Eisinger F, Chabal F, Aurran Y, Nogues C, Vennin P, Bignon Y-J, Machelard-Roumagnac M, Maugard-Louboutin C, Serin D, Versini S, Mercuri M, Sobol H (1996a) Cancer genetics clinics: Target populations and consultee's expectations. Eur J Cancer 32a:398–403.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Julian-Reyneir C, Sobol H, Chabal F, Aurran Y, Nogues C, Bignon Y-J, Maugard-Louboutin C, Machelard-Roumagnac M, Vennin P, Eisinger F (1996b) Risk Perception and Anxiety Feelings After Cancer Genetic Consultation. Paper presented at the 5th European Meeting on Psychosocial Aspects of Genetics, Rome, September 26–28, 1996Google Scholar
- Kessler S (1990) Current psychological issues in genetic counseling. J Psychosom Obstet Gynecol 11:5–18.Google Scholar
- Lerman C, Lustbader E, Rimer B, Daly M, Miller S, Sands C, Balshem A (1995) Effects of individualized breast cancer risk counseling: a randomized trial. J Natl Cancer Inst 87:287–292.Google Scholar
- Lippmann-Hand A, Fraser C (1979) Genetic counseling: Parents' responses to uncertainty. Birth Def Orig Art Ser 15:325–339.Google Scholar
- Muhr, T, (1994) Atlas-ti. Berlin.Google Scholar
- Rosenthal R (1982) Conducting judgement studies. In: KR Scherer, P Ekman (eds) Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behaviour Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Shiloh S, Saxe L (1989) Perception of risk in genetic counseling. Psychol Health 3:45–61.Google Scholar
- Statham H, Green JM, Hallowell N, Murton F, Richards MPM (1996) Genetic Counseling for Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Why Do Women Attend? Poster presented at the 5th European Meeting on Psychosocial Aspects of Genetics, Rome, September 26–28, 1996.Google Scholar
- Strauss A, Corbin J (1990) Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. London: Sage.Google Scholar