Predictors of risk-reducing surgery intentions following genetic counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

Mary Kathleen Ladd, Beth N. Peshkin, Leigha Senter, Shari Baldinger, Claudine Isaacs, Hannah Segal, Samantha Philip, Chloe Phillips, Kate Shane, Aimee Martin, Veronique Weinstein, Robert Pilarski, Joanne Jeter, Kevin Sweet, Bonnie Hatten, Elisabeth J. Wurtmann, Shanda Phippen, Della Bro, Marc D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Risk-reducing mastectomy (RRM) and salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) are increasingly used to reduce breast and ovarian cancer risk following BRCA1/BRCA2 testing. However, little is known about how genetic counseling influences decisions about these surgeries. Although previous studies have examined intentions prior to counseling, few have examined RRM and RRSO intentions in the critical window between genetic counseling and test result disclosure. Previous research has indicated that intentions at this time point predict subsequent uptake of surgery, suggesting that much decision-making has taken place prior to result disclosure. This period may be a critical time to better understand the drivers of prophylactic surgery intentions. The aim of this study was to examine predictors of RRM and RRSO intentions. We hypothesized that variables from the Health Belief Model would predict intentions, and we also examined the role of affective factors. Participants were 187 women, age 21-75, who received genetic counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. We utilized multiple logistic regression to identify independent predictors of intentions. 49.2% and 61.3% of participants reported intentions for RRM and RRSO, respectively. Variables associated with RRM intentions include: newly diagnosed with breast cancer (OR = 3.63, 95% CI = 1.20-11.04), perceived breast cancer risk (OR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.17-1.81), perceived pros (OR = 1.79, 95% CI = 1.38-2.32) and cons of RRM (OR = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.65-0.996), and decision conflict (OR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.66-0.98). Variables associated with RRSO intentions include: proband status (OR = 0.28, 95% CI = 0.09-0.89), perceived pros (OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.11-1.63) and cons of RRSO (OR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.59-0.89), and ambiguity aversion (OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.65-0.95). These data provide support for the role of genetic counseling in fostering informed decisions about risk management, and suggest that the role of uncertainty should be explored further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-346
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Decision-making
  • Genetic counseling
  • Hereditary breast/ovarian cancer
  • Intentions
  • Risk-reducing mastectomy
  • Risk-reducing oophorectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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