-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Although women whose mothers
had breast cancer may worry about developing cancer themselves,
many do not fully understand when and why they should be screened
or their options to reduce their risk for the disease, a new study
"Young, high-risk women have little knowledge about the probabilities and options for managing the cancers for which their risks are remarkably increased. Further, many report intense anxiety related to their potential cancer development," principal investigator Andrea Farkas Patenaude, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in an institute news release.
The daughters of women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a 50
percent chance of having this mutation themselves, which will
increase their risk of breast cancer by 85 percent and raise their
risk of ovarian cancer by up to 60 percent. The researchers pointed
out that these women will be unable to make informed health
decisions until they know about these risks as well as the genetic
testing, other types of screening and risk-reducing surgery
available to them.
In conducting the study, the investigators questioned the 18- to
24-year-old daughters of mothers who are BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
carriers, about their attitudes, health behaviors, life plans and
how much they knew about hereditary breast or ovarian cancer
The researchers found that the women surveyed worried a lot
about hereditary breast or ovarian cancer. In fact, 40 percent of
the daughters revealed they worried a great deal or to an extreme
about hereditary cancer.
The study also revealed that the women were not well-informed
about the genetics of breast or ovarian cancers, compared to those
who had genetic counseling. The participants also did not fully
understand their cancer screening and risk-reduction options,
including when they should begin this screening process.
"These data support the need and can provide the foundation for the development of targeted educational materials to reduce that anxiety and ultimately improve participation in effective screening and risk-reducing interventions that can improve survival and quality of life for these young women," Farkas Patenaude said.
The findings were slated for presentation on Thursday in Orlando
at the Era of Hope conference hosted by the Department of Defense
Breast Cancer Research Program. Because this study was presented at
a meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary
until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute provides more information on
how to assess
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