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J Clin Oncol. 1998 Jan;16(1):133-8.

Genetic counseling and testing for breast-ovarian cancer susceptibility: what do women want?

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  • 1Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA.



To assess preferences for the content and process of genetic counseling and testing for breast-ovarian cancer susceptibility among women at high risk for breast cancer.


Ninety-eight healthy women who had a family history of breast cancer in at least two first-degree relatives participated in a structured telephone survey that evaluated preferences for type of provider and the content and process of pretest education and posttest genetic counseling.


Forty-two percent of women preferred that pretest education be delivered by a genetic counselor, while 22% preferred an oncologist. This preference was positively associated with a desire to discuss psychosocial issues during the session (P = .001). For posttest counseling, 38% of women preferred an oncologist, while 20% preferred a genetic counselor. However, women who desired supportive counseling during this session were significantly more likely to prefer a genetic counselor to an oncologist (P = .02). Fewer women wished to see a primary care physician or gynecologist for pretest education (11%) or posttest counseling (22%). With regard to the counseling process, 82% of women wished to self-refer for genetic counseling, but 63% desired advice and recommendations about whether to be tested.


When feasible, the optimal approach may be for oncologists to work with genetic counselors to provide pretest education and medical recommendations. Elicitation of patients' preferences may be useful to determine the level of counseling services needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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