Disclosure pattern and follow-up after the molecular diagnosis of BRCA/CHEK2 mutations
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Journal of genetic counseling. - New York
, p. 254-261
University of Antwerp
Five to 10 % of all breast cancer cases are due to mutations of high penetrance susceptibility genes, especially BRCA1 and BRCA2. In families with known BRCA mutations, disclosure of genetic test results could induce relatives to undergo genetic testing themselves and adopt cancer risk management strategies, if necessary. This study examines disclosure patterns of individuals tested for mutations in the BRCA1, BRCA2 and CHEK2 genes to first-degree relatives with emphasis on a possible gender difference. It also assesses which management strategy is preferred by mutation-positive women in Belgium and the influence of psychological characteristics on communication and choice of management strategy. Ninety-nine adults from BRCA/CHEK2 families, selected from the Centre of Medical Genetics of Antwerp, were included in the study. They were provided with medical and psychological questionnaires, the latter being the Self-Assessment Questionnaire, which is the Dutch version of the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Dutch version of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS-NL). The survey focused on disclosure, coping and management strategies with special attention on possible gender differences. The influence of socio-demographic and medical data on disclosure and cancer risk management as well as the influence of psychological features were examined by means of various statistical analyses. Ninety-nine patients were included, of whom 25 (25 %) were male. Eighty-seven percent of the participants informed all of their adult first-degree relatives about their mutation status without any gender discrimination. Seventy-eight percent of highly-educated participants informed all of their adult first-degree relatives, compared to 98 % of less formally-educated participants (p = 0.006). The majority of mutation-positive women preferred prophylactic surgery to surveillance. Psychological differences appeared to have little influence on disclosure patterns and management strategies. The gender difference seems to be less pronounced than previously assumed. A striking observation, however, is the fact that significantly more participants who were less formally-educated informed all of their adult first-degree relatives, compared to participants who were highly-educated. In our study population, most female mutation carriers opted for prophylactic surgery. Since the study population is small, further studies are needed to enhance the generalizability of these results.