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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • melanoma;
  • genetic testing;
  • anxiety;
  • pancreatic cancer

Abstract

Objective

CDKN2A/p16 mutations confer 76% lifetime risk of melanoma and up to 17% lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer. Our objective was to determine the short- and long-term impact of CDKN2A/p16 genetic counseling and test reporting on psychological distress, cancer worry, and perceived costs and benefits of testing.

Methods

Prospective changes in anxiety, depression, and cancer worry following CDKN2A/p16 counseling and test reporting were evaluated at multiple assessments over 2 years among 60 adult members of melanoma-prone families; 37 participants completed the 2-year follow-up. Quantitative and qualitative assessments of the costs and benefits of testing were carried out. Outcomes were evaluated among unaffected noncarriers (n = 27), unaffected carriers (n = 15), and affected carriers (n = 18).

Results

Reported anxiety and depression were low. For carriers and noncarriers, anxiety decreased significantly throughout the 2-year period, whereas depression and melanoma worry showed short-term decreases. Worry about pancreatic cancer was low and decreased significantly. In all groups, test-related distress and uncertainty were low, regret was absent, and positive experiences were high. All participants (>93% at each assessment) reported at least one perceived benefit of genetic testing; only 15.9% listed any negative aspect. Carriers reported increased knowledge about melanoma risk and prevention (78.3%) and increased prevention and screening behaviors for self and family (65.2%). Noncarriers reported increased knowledge (95.2%) and emotional benefits (71.4%).

Conclusion

Among US participants familiar with their hereditary melanoma risk through prior epidemiological research participation, CDKN2A/p16 genetic testing provides multiple perceived benefits to both carriers and noncarriers without inducing distress in general or worry about melanoma or pancreatic cancer. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.