Perception of screening and risk reduction surgeries in patients tested for a BRCA deleterious mutation


  • Presented in part at the 2007 ASCO Breast Symposium, San Francisco, California, September 7-8, 2007.



Women at a high risk for breast cancer are offered choices for screening or prophylactic surgeries. The aim of this study was to evaluate opinions regarding screening and surgical strategies in high-risk women.


Women at the authors' institution who received BRCA1 of 2 testing before July 2005 were sent a follow-up patient survey. The authors compared responses of women who tested positive for a deleterious mutation with those who tested negative. For those who expressed an opinion (agree vs disagree), a 2-sided Fisher exact test was used to compare responses.


A total of 540 surveys were sent, and 312 were returned (58%). Of these, 217 had breast cancer, and 86 women tested positive for a mutation. No BRCA+ women felt mammograms were difficult to get because of discomfort, whereas 5.4% of the BRCA− group did (P = .039). Seventy percent of BRCA+ women agreed that prophylactic mastectomy (PM) is the most effective means for reducing risk, compared with 40% of BRCA− women (P < .001). PM was felt to be the only way to reduce worry in 64.7% of BRCA+ and in 34.4% of BRCA− women (P < .001). PM was felt to be too drastic for 36.1% of BRCA+ and 40.5% of BRCA− women (P = .562). Difficulty in deciding between screening and PM occurred in 23.9% of BRCA+ and 12.5% of BRCA− women (P = .046). After excluding women with bilateral breast cancers, 81.0% of women who agreed that PM was best to reduce risk underwent a PM versus 19.1% of those who disagreed (P < .001). Of women who felt PM was the only way to reduce worry, 84.2% underwent PM. Only 15.8% of women who did not believe that it was the only way to decrease worry underwent PM (P < .001).


BRCA mutation carriers were more likely to believe PM to be the best way to reduce both risk and worry of breast cancer. High-risk women who agreed that PM was more likely to reduce risk and worry of breast cancer were more likely to proceed with this intervention. Cancer 2009. © 2009 American Cancer Society.