Attitudes Toward Information About Genetic Risk for Cognitive Impairment After Cancer Chemotherapy: Breast Cancer Survivors Compared With Healthy Controls

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Purpose: The trend toward personalized medicine will involve cancer treatment increasingly being tailored to the genetic characteristics of individuals. However, the availability of genetic information does not imply this information is desired or would impact treatment decision making.
Methods: One hundred sixty breast cancer survivors (BC group) and 205 healthy controls (HC group) were randomly assigned to respond to two different clinical scenarios varying in genetic-related risk of cognitive impairment (CI; little v very likely) and severity of CI (little v moderate problem) after chemotherapy. Ratings of the importance of being told this genetic information (information importance) and the likelihood this information would affect their decision to receive chemotherapy (information impact) were obtained.
Results: Results indicated the importance ascribed to genetic information was greatest when CI likelihood and severity were both high or low (P < .05). Information impact ratings were not sensitive to differences in CI likelihood or severity; the BC group was less likely to indicate genetic information would affect their decision to receive chemotherapy than the HC group (P < .001).
Conclusion: Results suggest lessened enthusiasm for genetic information that maintains or increases uncertainty about a specific course of action and highlight the importance of including clinically relevant groups in treatment decision-making research that employs hypothetical scenarios. Although women generally believe it is important to receive genetic information, they might benefit from assistance (eg, decision aid) in the difficult task of integrating information about survival and risk for adverse late effects from cancer treatment.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology, v. 28, issue 21, p. 3442-3447