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Genetic counseling offers support to breast cancer patients

11:26 AM, Dec 10, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Genetic counseling may give breast cancer patients peace of mind. Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center took a look at how a woman psychosocially adjusts after being diagnosed whether they had had surgery or not.

In a recent study, supported in part by the American Cancer Society, they found women who had not been tested for the BRCA gene but were offered genetically counseling were less likely to be distressed about fighting breast cancer.

"Sometimes I think health care providers are maybe a little hesitant to refer women for genetic counseling at or near the time of a breast cancer diagnosis, because it seems like it's one more thing women are going to have to deal with and worry about," says Dr. Susan Vadaparampil, the study's lead co-author at Moffitt Cancer Center.

She goes on to say, "Our study was really among the first to look at that and see if that was true: whether women were more distressed, whether they were able to cope with the information they received about possible genetic risk for not only this breast cancer, but another breast cancer based on their genetic risk information."

Men and women who test positive for the BRCA gene have a 50 percent chance of passing it on to their children. Women in the study were likely to talk with their female children, sisters, and moms about the disease and many said they liked the idea of offering risk management strategies to their kids.

103 women took part in this study, and the majority -- 87 of them -- had already undergone surgery.

Dr. Vadaparampil points out counseling does not mean you have to be tested for the BRCA gene. The counseling was a form of support for women, and overall, they felt like they got useful information and were emotionally supported.

To learn more about the genetics of breast cancer from the Cleveland Clinic, click here.

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