Heamanthaa Padmanabhan, Shivaani Mariapun, Sheau-Yee Lee, Nur Tiara Hassan, Daphne Shin-Chi Lee, Bettina Meiser, Siu-Wan Wong, Yong-Quan Lee, Cheng-Har Yip, Soo-Hwang Teo, Meow-Keong Thong, Nur Aishah Mohd Taib, Sook-Yee Yoon
Cascade testing for families with BRCA pathogenic variants is important to identify relatives who are carriers. These relatives can benefit from appropriate risk management and preventative strategies arising from an inherited increased risk of breast, ovarian, prostate, melanoma, and pancreatic cancers. Cascade testing has the potential to enable cost-effective cancer control even in low- and middle-income settings, but few studies have hitherto evaluated the psychosocial impact of cascade testing in an Asian population, where the cultural and religious beliefs around inheritance and destiny have previously been shown to influence perception and attitudes toward screening. In this study, we evaluated the short- and long-term psychosocial impact of genetic testing among unaffected relatives of probands identified through the Malaysian Breast Cancer Genetics Study and the Malaysian Ovarian Cancer Study, using validated questionnaires (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and Cancer Worry Scale) administered at baseline, and 1-month and 2-year post-disclosure of results. Of the 305 unaffected relatives from 98 independent families who were offered cascade testing, 256 (84%) completed predictive testing and family history of cancers was the only factor significantly associated with uptake of predictive testing. We found that the levels of anxiety, depression, and cancer worry among unaffected relatives decreased significantly after result disclosure and remained low 2-year post-result disclosure. Younger relatives and relatives of Malay descent had higher cancer worry at both baseline and after result disclosure compared to those of Chinese and Indian descent, whereas relatives of Indian descent and those with family history of cancers had higher anxiety and depression levels post-result disclosure. Taken together, the results from this Asian cohort highlight the differences in psychosocial needs in different communities and inform the development of culture-specific genetic counseling strategies.
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