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Pretest Genetic Counseling Decreases Stress for BRCA Patients

TOP - Daily

Because breast cancer gene status plays a large role in treatment and risk management, breast cancer patients with certain risk factors may benefit from pretest genetic counseling and genetic testing at or near the time of initial diagnosis, suggest Moffitt Cancer Center researchers.

In fact, recent study results show that when breast cancer patients were offered pretest genetic counseling prior to breast cancer surgery, they showed decreased distress. Furthermore, patients offered pretest genetic counseling following surgery improved their informed decision making, and patients in both groups showed increases in their cancer knowledge with pretest genetic counseling, the researchers said.

Study lead coauthor Susan T. Vadaparampil, PhD, an associate member of Health Outcomes & Behavior at Moffitt, set out to determine “the specific impact of pretest genetic counseling on cancer knowledge, psychosocial adjustment, and decision making about genetic testing for breast cancer patients before or during treatment.”

Vadaparampil and her colleagues evaluated 103 patients – 87 who had undergone surgery, and 16 who had not. Participants’ ages ranged from 24 to 69. For this study, patients met with a master’s degree–level, trained genetic health professional to obtain a risk assessment based on personal and family genetic history. The limitations of genetic testing plus information regarding hereditary breast and ovarian cancer were also discussed.

The researchers reported that “trends suggest pretest genetic counseling decreases overall decisional conflict for after-surgery patients … and it is possible that (these) patients gain increased understanding of the benefits and risks of previous and potential treatment and surgical options.”

Increases in cancer knowledge after pretest genetic counseling was reported among both before- and after-surgery patient groups. Patients who received before-surgery counseling reported decreased cancer-related distress.

“Our data suggest that in the weeks following pretest genetic counseling, cancer-related knowledge in both before- and after-surgery groups increased, distress in before-surgery patients decreased, and informed decision making in after-surgery patients improved,” the authors concluded.

Source: Moffitt Cancer Center.