Background: Risk management intentions prior to genetic counseling predict risk management uptake following genetic testing. Limited studies examined the attitude and understanding towards genetic counseling/testing in underserved countries. The purposes of this study were to explore knowledge and attitude towards genetic counseling, testing, and risk management for breast and ovarian cancer, and to understand the factors influencing risk management intentions in women with cancer in Taiwan.
Methods: Cross-sectional with correlational design was used in this study. Participants were enrolled for genetic testing based on clinical criteria suspected of having hereditary cancer. Survey was conducted using a standardized questionnaire including (1) demographics and personal/family history of cancer; (2) prior experience or consideration of genetic testing and reasons for not considering; (3) perception and attitude towards genetic counseling; and (4) intentions for risk management with a hypothetical BRCA1 mutation status. Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze the predictors of participants' intentions for cancer risk management strategies.
Results: A total of 430 women with cancer were analyzed in which 51.6% had family history of cancer in first-degree relatives. Only 30.7% had considered genetic testing and 28.4% had known about genetic counseling prior to the study. When prompted with the services of genetic counseling, the attitude towards genetic counseling was fairly positive (score of 19.8 ± 2.9 out of 25). Given hypothetical BRCA1 mutation status, enhanced breast cancer screening with annual breast MRI was much more accepted than cancer risk reducing interventions. More positive attitude towards genetic counseling (each score point increase) was associated with higher odds of intention for breast MRI (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.09-1.32) and preventive tamoxifen (OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.02-1.22). Having considered genetic testing prior to the study was associated with higher odds of intention for all four risk management strategies: breast MRI (OR 2.99, 95% CI 1.46-6.11), preventive tamoxifen (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.00-3.17), risk-reducing mastectomy (OR 2.24, 95% CI 1.13-4.42), and risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (OR 2.69, 95% CI 1.27-6.93).
Conclusion: Knowledge of genetic testing and positive attitude towards genetic counseling were associated with increased willingness to consider cancer risk management strategies for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. Given the limited knowledge on genetic testing and counseling in the studied population, increasing public awareness of these services may increase adoption of the risk management strategies.
Keywords: Genetic counseling; Genetic testing; Hereditary cancer; Risk management.