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J Genet Couns. 2005 Dec;14(6):473-84.

Risk-reduction surgery decisions in high-risk women seen for genetic counseling.

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Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, 85724, USA.


Women at greatest risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer may consider prophylactic removal of breasts or ovaries as a risk-reduction measure. This report describes uptake of risk-reduction mastectomy (RRM), risk-reduction oophorectomy (RRO), and related factors in 62 high-risk women who received genetic counseling. Seven (11%) participants underwent RRM and 13 (21%) underwent RRO. Of these women, 37% did not have BRCA testing, suggesting other factors influence decisions to undergo surgery. Women who had indicated (pre-genetic counseling) their intent not to have surgery chose not to have surgery. Information received during genetic counseling that women perceived as being most important for influencing risk-reduction surgery decisions was BRCA test result (positive or negative), followed by discussion of family cancer history. Reasons for indecision about risk-reduction surgery included genetic testing results, concerns about surgery, timing in life, and early menopause. The findings enhance our understanding of information that is helpful to women considering this surgery.

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