Addressing the psychological impact of BRCA testing

Addressing the psychological impact of BRCA testing

As someone with a faulty BRCA2 gene, I’m glad to see that someone is paying attention to the psychological impact of being on the receiving end of this diagnosis.

I’d already had all of my treatment when I agreed to take the test and I didn’t give the matter much thought. It felt like something I should do because it might be helpful in terms of research. I must have been distracted; it didn’t occur to me that there could be serious ramifications or that, if it were positive, that there would be far-reaching implications for my family. And no-one suggested I should.

This article in Oncology Nurse Advisor also talks about the psychological impact a positive result can have on  ‘previvors’, those who haven’t had cancer when they’re diagnosed with a gene fault. It makes the point that weighing treatment options when you don’t have cancer, and so are thinking in terms of prevention, is very different from weighing up the same options when you do, and are thinking about saving your life. 

I wholeheartedly agree with the author’s conclusion that ‘the psychological stressors these patients experience should be acknowledged to ensure adequate access to support. Any health care provider who recommends genetic testing should understand these psychological stressors and plan for interventions that address the issues and impediments that can reduce patients’ psychological quality of life.”