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Screening and Testing for Genetic Susceptibility to Cancer 

Screening and Testing for Genetic Susceptibility to Cancer
Source:
Psycho-Oncology (3 ed.)

Since the identification of the BRCA1and BRCA2 mutations in 1994–1995, there has been a steadily growing interest in genetic counseling and testing among the general public, breast cancer patients, their families, and physicians. The knowledge of being a carrier of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation offers opportunities for targeted surveillance programs or risk-reducing surgery, including prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy. More recently, genetic testing has also been requested directly after a cancer diagnosis, to help decision-making in primary cancer treatment. However, a number of psychosocial challenges have also been identified. Problems such as the fear of developing cancer, communication problems with family members, problems with decision-making regarding preventive behavior, and assisted reproduction are reported. A number of psychological approaches that support genetic testing and its impact have been developed. The medical, psychological, and social challenges and the possible ways of providing psychosocial support are discussed in this chapter.

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