Genetic testing and breast cancer: the women's point of view


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Abstract

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Western countries (130 000 cases per year in Europe) and accounts for 20–25% of all malignancies in European women. In the past few years medical journals have focused greater attention on the quality and quantity of information provided to consumers; there is a general consensus amongst physicians on the importance of having better informed consumers. This change in attitude is influencing greatly the physician–patient relationship and political decisions. Breast cancer associations, like the National Breast Cancer Coalition in the USA or EUROPA DONNA, the European Breast Cancer Coalition in Europe, have pushed for involvement in the discussion of any phase of illness, and have a particular interest in preventive medicine. The identification of high-risk women by genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations is largely debated, in particular regarding patient counseling, and psychosocial and legislative support. This article reports the different points of view raised by women's movements, so that useful suggestions may be provided to improve breast cancer prevention modalities.

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