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J Clin Epidemiol. 2002 Jul;55(7):665-75.

Effects of genetic consultation on perception of a family risk of breast/ovarian cancer and determinants of inaccurate perception after the consultation.

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  • 1Epidemiology and Social Sciences Unit (INSERM U379), Institut Paoli-Calmettes, 232 Bd Ste Marguerite, 13273 Marseille cedex 09, France.


The aim of this study was to assess the effects of cancer genetic consultations on women's perception of their family risk of breast/ovarian cancer, and to determine which factors were associated with an inaccurate perception after the consultation. A multicenter prospective survey was carried out on women (n = 397) attending cancer genetic clinics in France for the first time, in which the perceived family risk was measured both before and after the consultation, using self-administered questionnaires. The effects of the consultation on risk perception were significant among low (P <.001) and moderate risk women (P <.05). However, after the consultation, 76.3% of the "low"-risk women did not perceive their family as "low"-risk families, and 21.9% of the moderate-risk women were still definitely sure there was a genetic risk running in their family. The consultation did not affect the family risk perception of the high risk women (n = 171): the risk was thought to be very high both before (87.7%) and after (89.5%) the consultation (NS); however 10.5% of this group still perceived their family as being unlikely to be at risk after the consultation. In the low- and moderate-risk groups after multivariate adjustment, the inaccurate perceptions varied, depending on the clinics and on the psychosocial context of the consultation: they increased when the consultee was personally affected by cancer, and decreased when the consultee had a health occupation. Cancer genetic consultations had only marginal effects on the perception of family risk on the whole, although they were significant in the case of low- and moderate-risk women. The question arises as to whether a more comprehensive approach should be implemented and how to go about providing efficient cancer risk information in the context of health care systems.

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