Uptake and acceptability of genetic counselling amongst breast cancer patients and their families in the uMgungundlovu Municipality in 2004.
Awareness of genetic counselling and risk assessment is imperative for women to seek out genetic services. The purpose of this study is to determine the level of genetic counselling and acceptability of genetic counselling by breast cancer survivors, at the time of diagnosis, and the female members of their families, after the diagnosis of the patient within their family, with a view to developing recommendations based on the findings of the study. Two questionnaires were administered to a conveniently selected sample of 48 women; 28 were breast cancer survivors from the Cancer Association of South Africa’s breast cancer support group and 20 women from the general public. Interviews were then conducted with four randomly selected patients and their family members. A total of 12 participants were interviewed: four breast cancer survivors and eight family members, including two spouses and six children. During the interviews one breast cancer patient who was counselled by a psychologist indicated that she was not satisfied with the information she had been given and that further information on the genetics, recurrence, prognosis and family risk should have been provided as she considered this to be essential. The three patients who were not counselled were of the opinion that counselling on the genetics and risks of breast cancer would have been very useful. Four (50%) of the eight family members interviewed, indicated that they were not offered genetic counselling and would not be interested in knowing about the risks associated with breast cancer. Of the remaining four, two (25%) indicated that although they were not offered genetic counselling they would be interested in genetic counselling and learning about the risks associated with breast cancer as such information would be of great value. In terms of a breast cancer risk assessment, four of the eight family members (50%) indicated they were not interested with one further explaining that she might be interested at a later stage. The remaining four family members (50%) indicated their interest in attending a breast cancer risk assessment. In conclusion, educational interventions are required to increase awareness of genetic counselling and risk assessment.