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Daughters whose mothers are known carriers of genetic breast cancer are anxious and uninformed

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New breast cancer research unveiled at Era of Hope conference shows young women should be screened starting at age 25



Daughters of known carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are understandably stressed, reported A. Farkas Patenaude, PhD, in a paper, “What do young adult daughters of BRCA mutation carriers know about hereditary risk and how much do they worry,” presented at The Era of Hope Conference in Orlando, Florida, August 2–6.

These 18-to-24-year-olds are at a 50% to 85% risk for breast and related ovarian cancers2—significantly more so than that of the general population (at 30 years, a 0.43% risk).1 In addition, these types of breast and ovarian cancer often occur at an unusually young age.2

Although ACOG recommends that annual screening mammograms begin at age 40,3 daughters of women who are known gene-mutation carriers should begin screening mammography at age 25.4 The ability of these women to make informed health decisions depends on their becoming knowledgeable about the risks, the availability of genetic testing, and options for screening and risk-reducing prophylactic surgery.

Although the daughters expressed worry about hereditary breast cancer, they had limited understanding of screening and risk-reduction options. If they did have the information, Dr. Patenaude’s study found, the young women were often afraid to have the testing.2,4

“Young, high-risk women have little knowledge about the probabilities and options for managing the cancers for which their risks are remarkably increased. Further, many report intense anxiety related to their potential cancer development,” said Dr. Patenaude of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. “These data support the need and can provide the foundation for the development of targeted educational materials to reduce that anxiety and ultimately improve participation in effective screening and risk-reducing interventions that can improve survival and quality of life for these young women.”2

The Era of Hope Conference provides a forum for scientists and clinicians from a variety of disciplines to join breast cancer survivors and advocates to discuss the advances made by the Congressionally Directed Breast Cancer Research Programs BCRP awardees, and to identify innovative, high-impact approaches for future research. Recognized as one of the premiere breast cancer research meetings.5

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