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Genet Test. 2004 Spring;8(1):23-9.

Non-uptake of predictive genetic testing for BRCA1/2 among relatives of known carriers: attributes, cancer worry, and barriers to testing in a multicenter clinical cohort.

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Psychology Research Group, The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, SM2 5NG, England.


BRCA1/2 test decliners/deferrers have received almost no attention in the literature and this is the first study of this population in the United Kingdom. The aim of this multicenter study is to examine the attributes of a group of individuals offered predictive genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer predisposition who did not wish to proceed with testing at the time of entry into this study. This forms part of a larger study involving 9 U.K. centers investigating the psychosocial impact of predictive genetic testing for BRCA1/2. Cancer worry and reasons for declining or deferring BRCA1/2 predictive genetic testing were evaluated by questionnaire following genetic counseling. A total of 34 individuals declined the offer of predictive genetic testing. Compared to the national cohort of test acceptors, test decliners are significantly younger. Female test decliners have lower levels of cancer worry than female test acceptors. Barriers to testing include apprehension about the result, traveling to the genetics clinic, and taking time away from work/family. Women are more likely than men to worry about receiving less screening if found not to be a carrier. The findings do not indicate that healthy BRCA1/2 test decliners are a more vulnerable group in terms of cancer worry. However, barriers to testing need to be discussed in genetic counseling.

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