Psychological Sequelae of Ovarian Cancer Screening and Genetic Testing for Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility
A. Fuchsia Howard,
Lynda G. Balneaves.
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of gynaecological malignancies. Although early detection efforts have been relatively unsuccessful in reducing mortality at the population level, ovarian cancer screening continues to be offered to some women. Testing for mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes can determine whether women have a heightened risk of developing ovarian cancer and those found to be at high risk are closely followed and offered cancer risk-reducing strategies. Yet, ovarian cancer screening and genetic testing have potential psychological sequelae. The purpose of this article is to present an overview of these psychological sequelae. Overall, women who receive normal ovarian cancer screening results benefit emotionally and the emotional distress associated with abnormal results subsides once a cancer diagnosis is excluded. There are psychological benefits of genetic testing as well as potential challenges that include interpreting results, feelings of anxiety, distress and depression, changes in self-concept, experiencing guilt and worry regarding family members, communicating with family and making decisions about ovarian cancer screening and riskreducing oophorectomy. Psychological support that addresses the unique psychological sequelae associated with hereditary ovarian cancer risk and targets the subgroup of women who are more likely to experience difficulties would likely be beneficial.
Keywords: Ovarian cancer, screening, genetic testing, psychological, women's health, gynaecological malignancies, BRCA1/2 testing, oophorectomy, women's psychological health, biomarker screening
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