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Genet Test. 2002 Summer;6(2):107-13.

Clinical interpretation and recommendations for patients with a variant of uncertain significance in BRCA1 or BRCA2: a survey of genetic counseling practice.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


The intent of this study was to document current practices in breast cancer genetic counseling and identify areas of variability for patients with a variant of uncertain significance (VUS) in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Registered members of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Cancer Special Interest Group (SIG) were sent an invitation via electronic mail to participate in an online questionnaire. The questionnaire was divided into three sections: clinical experience, clinical meaning, and risk perceptions and clinical recommendations for clinical situations involving a VUS. Fifty-seven of the eligible members responded. During the pre-test counseling session for a BRCA risk assessment patient, the vast majority of counselors (80.7%) mention VUS as a possible test result. Nearly half, 49.1%, report having given such a result to their patients at least one to four times. However, only 63.2% felt as though their patients understood the meaning of a VUS result. When asked to conclude the implication of a VUS and make medical management recommendations, the responses were varied. Nevertheless, a good proportion of counselors expressed the importance of testing other family members to help clarify the proband's risk and aid in medical management issues. Although the recent recommendations by the American College of Medical Genetics suggest standards for the interpretation of sequence variations, they do not provide guidelines for making clinical recommendations based on these variations. The results of this study reveal significant diversity in the personal interpretation of a VUS result, leading to various clinical recommendations, and suggest a need for clinical management recommendations as well.

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