Among women with a BRCA1 mutation, the lifetime risks of breast and ovarian cancer are elevated. Several measures for reducing cancer risk in carriers of BRCA1 mutations have been proposed, including prophylactic surgery and tamoxifen chemoprevention. It is not yet known to what extent women with mutations have adopted these various preventive measures. We surveyed 414 Polish women with a BRCA1 mutation who had received counseling about various preventive strategies. Each woman completed a survey for a minimum of 18 months after receiving her genetic result. A high proportion of women reported having had an oophorectomy to reduce breast and ovarian cancer risk (49.1%). In contrast, only 11% had taken tamoxifen and only 5% had undergone a preventive mastectomy. Most of the women (81%) had a screening mammogram during the follow-up period. Oral contraceptives and breastfeeding are believed to protect against ovarian cancer, but only 9% of women had taken the birth control pill for 3 years or more and 27% had breastfed for 1 year or more. In summary, approximately one-half of Polish women with a BRCA1 mutation had taken an active step to reduce their risk of breast cancer within 18 months of receiving a positive result. A greater effort should be made to promote breastfeeding and use of oral contraceptive as risk-reducing measures.
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