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Genet Test. 2002 Summer;6(2):75-8.

Progress of a Comprehensive Familial Cancer Genetic Counseling Program in the Era of BRCA1 and BRCA2.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Gynecologic Oncology Program, madison 53792, USA.


BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers have an increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. Technical advances in genetic testing have increased the need for genetic counseling services; therefore, we have developed a counseling program for these individuals. The purpose of this study is to characterize this population, assess level of interest in genetic testing, and evaluate our program over a 5-year period. Our Familial Cancer Genetic Counseling Program was established in November, 1994. Information was collected prospectively, with comprehensive evaluation including complete pedigree, risk assessment, and counseling by a genetic counselor, geneticist, and oncologist. Data were collected on risk level, and subsequent recommendations for screening and/or genetic testing. There were 824 contacts recorded from November, 1994, through August, 1999. To date, 162 families have undergone comprehensive genetic evaluation and counseling. 90 (56%) were seen for a concerning family history and 72 (44%) were seen due to a personal history of malignancy. The majority of families had a significant level of risk with 126 (78%) families having two and 70 (43%) families having three affected first-degree relatives. Of the 162 families who received full counseling, 125 (77%) met criteria to recommend BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing. At this time, 30 of the 162 (18%) have had genetic testing. A brief phone contact or clinic visit is useful to screen individuals so that counseling can be directed toward truly high-risk families. In our program, the majority of families counseled were eligible for BRCA1/BRCA2 testing, but only 18% have elected to proceed at this time.

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