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Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Dec;67(6):1494-504. Epub 2000 Nov 3.

Evaluation of the needs of male carriers of mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 who have undergone genetic counseling.

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Centre for Research in Women's Health, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


To date, the concerns of men at risk of inheriting a BRCA1 mutation or a BRCA2 mutation have received little attention. It had been anticipated that few men would be interested in predictive testing when a BRCA mutation was identified in their family. However, these men are often affected emotionally by diagnoses of breast cancer in their relatives and may themselves harbor fears that cancer will develop. Male carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations are at increased risk of development of cancers of several types, including those of the breast and prostate. We conducted an evaluation of the needs and experiences of 59 male carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations followed at either the University of Toronto or Creighton University. We assessed their motivations for seeking genetic counseling and testing, involvement in family discussions of breast and ovarian cancer, risk perception, changes in cancer-screening practices, and overall satisfaction with the genetic-counseling process. The principal motivation for seeking genetic counseling was concern for their daughters. The majority (88%) of men participated in family conversations about breast and ovarian cancer, and 47% participated in conversations about prophylactic surgery. Most men believed that they were at increased risk of development of cancer (prostate, breast, colorectal, and skin cancers). However, fewer than one-half (43%) of the men with no previous diagnosis of cancer stated that their prostate cancer-surveillance practices had changed after they had received genetic test results. More than one-half (55%) had intrusive thoughts about their cancer risk. Although levels of satisfaction were high, practitioners should be aware of (a) potential pressures influencing men to request predictive testing, (b) the difficulties that men encounter in establishing surveillance regimens for breast and prostate cancer, and (c) the general lack of information about men's particular experiences in the medical community.

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