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Eur J Cancer. 2000 Jan;36(2):235-41.

Risk perception, screening practice and interest in genetic testing among unaffected men in families with hereditary prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of Lund, Sweden.


Approximately 5-10% of prostate cancer cases are caused by dominantly inherited susceptibility to the disease. Although advances have been made in research concerning the genetic mechanisms of hereditary prostate cancer, little is known about the psychological consequences for men at high risk of developing the disease. The aims of the present study were to examine risk perception, interest in genetic investigations, cancer-specific worry, and screening practice among unaffected men, aged 40-72 years old, with a pedigree consistent with hereditary prostate cancer and an estimated lifetime risk of prostate cancer of 35-45%. A questionnaire was sent by mail to 120 subjects, of whom 110 responded. Most of the men (n = 90, 82%) worried about having an inherited susceptibility to prostate cancer, and 34 (31%) claimed that worry about prostate cancer affected their daily life (3 (3%) fairly much, 31 (28%) slightly). As many as 40% of the study subjects perceived their lifetime risk of prostate cancer as 67% or more. Perceived high risk was associated with symptoms of depression and with cancer worry affecting daily living. Two-thirds of the men aged 50 years old or more were regularly screened for prostate cancer. Subjects with high levels of cancer-specific stress, as measured by the avoidance subscale of the Impact of Event Scale, were less likely to opt for screening. Almost all of the men (94%) were interested in presymptomatic genetic testing (84 (76%) "definitely yes" and 20 (18%) "probably yes"). We conclude that hereditary susceptibility to prostate cancer has significant psychological consequences although it rarely causes psychiatric morbidity. The present study underlines the importance of giving thorough, repeated information to men at high risk of prostate cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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