Genetic Counseling and Testing for Breast Cancer Risk in African Americans

Halbert, Chanita Hughes

Genetic testing for susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1/2 testing) has been available in clinical settings since 1996. Increasingly, such testing is helping women at increased risk make decisions about breast cancer screening and prevention. African American women have participated in genetic counseling and testing programs less than white women, despite greater rates of early onset disease and higher breast cancer mortality. The barriers and motivations for genetic testing among African American women are not well understood. This Issue Brief summarizes a series of studies that systematically explore African American women’s beliefs and intentions about BRCA1/2 testing. The findings have been used to tailor genetic counseling programs to better serve this population.

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