Mutation of BRCA gene influences women's views of preventive mastectomy

Mar 09, 2009

Women whose cells harbor harmful mutations in the BRCA genes are likely to view preventive mastectomy as the best way to reduce their risk and fears of developing breast cancer, despite other, less drastic options available. That is the conclusion of a new study published in the April 1, 2009 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The study's findings could help physicians and other clinicians as they discuss test results with women who undergo BRCA gene testing.

Women at high risk for developing breast have several options to help safeguard against the disease. Risk management for with a known deleterious mutation in either the or genes has included frequent screening with mammogram, breast MRI, and clinical breast exams, tamoxifen therapy, and risk reduction surgeries including prophylactic mastectomy. To get a sense of women's opinions regarding those options, particularly frequent screening versus prophylactic mastectomy, researchers led by Jennifer K. Litton, M.D., of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston surveyed women at their institution who underwent BRCA1 and BRCA2 . When mutated, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are known to elevate the risk for the development of .

Of the 312 women surveyed, 86 had tested positive for a BRCA mutation. Seventy percent of the women who tested positive for a BRCA mutation felt that was the most effective way to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer, compared with 40 percent of women who tested negative for a BRCA mutation. Similarly, 64.7 percent of BRCA positive women felt that preventive mastectomy was the only way to reduce their worry, compared with 34.4 percent of BRCA negative women.

The investigators found that about eight out of ten women (81 percent) who viewed preventive mastectomy as the best way to reduce decided to undergo the procedure. A similar number of those who felt that preventive mastectomy was the only way to reduce worry underwent the procedure (84.2 percent).

The survey also revealed that none of the women who tested positive for a BRCA mutation and 5.4 percent of BRCA negative women felt that mammograms were difficult to get because the procedure was too uncomfortable.

The researchers concluded that women's opinions regarding preventive mastectomy and their ultimate choice to undergo the procedure were highly dependent upon their BRCA genetic testing results. "Health care providers and genetic counselors must take this into account when assessing a woman's needs at the time of genetic testing and results disclosure," the authors wrote.

More information: "Perception of screening and risk-reduction surgeries in patients tested for a BRCA deleterious mutation." J.K. Litton, S.N. Westin, K. Ready, C.C. Sun, S.K. Peterson, F. Meric-Bernstam, A.M. Gonzalez-Angulo, D.C. Bodurka, K.H. Lu, G.N. Hortobagyi, and B.K. Arun. CANCER; Published Online: March 9, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24119); Print Issue Date: April 15, 2009.

Source: American Cancer Society

Explore further: New tool to probe cancer's molecular make-up

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Debate continues on breast ductal carcinoma in situ

Oct 29, 2010

Six years ago, Mary Sullivan of Lido Beach, N.Y., underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with a breast abnormality known as DCIS -- ductal carcinoma in situ -- the most aggressive treatment for a lump neither ...

Recommended for you

Exercising restraint to stall tumor growth

2 hours ago

Many proteins undergo an assembly line-style process of glycosylation as they travel from a cellular structure called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi apparatus and on through its various compartments, ...

New tool to probe cancer's molecular make-up

Aug 26, 2014

Scientists have shown how to better identify and measure vital molecules that control cell behaviour – paving the way for improved tools for diagnosis, prediction and monitoring of cancer.

Mayo Clinic offers at-home colon cancer test

Aug 26, 2014

Mayo Clinic is taking another step toward making detection of colorectal cancer as convenient as possible, announcing Monday an at-home kit that arrives and is sent back in the mail, stool sample included.

User comments : 0