Assessing the knowledge and attitudes regarding genetic testing for breast cancer risk in our region of southeastern Georgia.
MacNew, H G
Brower, S T
Beck, A N
Meister, E A
The breast journal 2010 Mar ; 16(2): 189-92
Genetic testing for the breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, has been available for over a decade. Positive test results carry significant medical, psychological, and social implications. Knowledge of the public's awareness concerning BRCA testing, and perceived benefits and barriers to testing can help refine educational programs and identify subgroups needing additional support. Patients and their acquaintances with a breast complaint attending a surgical clinic or private office were asked to complete a questionnaire about their knowledge of breast cancer genes and their desire to be tested. Demographic information collected included ethnicity, education background, age, income, and personal and family history of breast cancer, knowledge of BRCA genes and testing, and their willingness to participate in genetic counseling. A total of 222 people completed the questionnaire that showed the majority of subjects in southeast Georgia believe breast cancer is inherited 26-50% of the time. Caucasians and those with advanced degrees are the most informed regarding awareness of BRCA genes (p < 0.05); the least informed groups include African Americans and those with no more than a college education. Participants with a family history of breast cancer were significantly more likely to know that genes had been identified that indicate an increased risk of breast cancer (p < 0.05). A history of breast cancer did not impact the degree of awareness (p > 0.05). Subjects aware of genetic testing are more willing to utilize counseling (p < 0.05). Perceptions of breast cancer inheritance, awareness of susceptibility genes, and availability of testing and counseling are not uniform among all population subgroups. In southeast Georgia, educational efforts should focus on the less educated and minority groups.
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