Women Remain Distress-Free Long After Genetic Test Results

But BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers are significantly more likely to experience distress

TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Most women do not experience distress several years after receiving BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) genetic test results, but mutation carriers are significantly more likely to experience distress, according to a study published online Oct. 10 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Chanita Hughes Halbert, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues characterized the long-term impact of genetic testing for BRCA1/2 mutations in 167 women who had received their genetic test results at least four years previously. The behavioral significance of adverse reactions was determined by evaluating the relationship between genetic testing-specific reactions and breast and ovarian cancer screening.

The investigators found that 74 and 41 percent of women did not experience any distress or uncertainty, respectively, regarding their test results, and 51 percent had a positive experience, suggesting low-levels of adverse reactions in terms of family support and communication. Distress was significantly more likely in mutation carriers (odds ratio [OR], 3.96). The only significant factor related to experiencing uncertainty was less time since disclosure (OR, 0.62). In terms of cancer screening, 81, 25, 20, and 20 percent of women had a mammogram (during the year prior to study recruitment), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), transvaginal ultrasound, and cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) screening, respectively. There was a significant correlation between having CA-125 screening and experiencing distress, and between uncertainty and having an MRI.

"Women are not likely to experience genetic testing concerns several years after receiving BRCA1/2 test results," the authors write.

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