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Women’s responses and understanding of polygenic breast cancer risk information


It is estimated that polygenic factors can explain up to 18% of familial breast cancer. Clinical implementation of polygenic testing has begun, with several commercial laboratories now testing. Despite commercial implementation, there is little research investigating how women respond and understand polygenic risk information. This study aimed to explore women’s experience receiving their personalised polygenic risk score (PRS) and compare responses of women at different levels of polygenic risk. Eligible participants were affected and unaffected women from families clinically assessed to be at high risk for breast cancer who had received their personalised PRS as part of the Variants in Practice Psychosocial Study (ViPPs). In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 women (mean age 53.4 years) up to four weeks after receiving their PRS. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Eleven women received a PRS that was in the top quartile of PRS distribution and 10 in the lowest quartile. Women’s lived experience with breast cancer informed how they responded to their PRS, constructed and made sense of breast cancer risk following receipt of their PRS, and integrated this new information into their breast cancer risk management. Regardless of polygenic risk level, all participants demonstrated broad knowledge of concepts related to polygenic information and were able to accurately describe the implications of their PRS. Receiving PRS did not appear to negatively impact women’s reported distress levels. Our findings suggest polygenic breast cancer information is well received and understood by women at high-risk for breast cancer.

Type Journal
ISBN 1573-7292
Authors Yanes, T.; Kaur, R.; Meiser, B.; Scheepers-Joynt, M.; McInerny, S.; Barlow-Stewart, K.; Antill, Y.; Salmon, L.; Smyth, C.; James, P. A.; Young, M. A.
Responsible Garvan Author Mary-Anne Young
Publisher Name Familial Cancer
Published Date 2020-10-31
Published Volume 22
Published Issue 1
Published Pages 21
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1007/s10689-020-00185-2
URL link to publisher's version