06. tbl. 104. árg. 2018

Views of Icelandic women towards genetic counseling - and testing of BRCA2 mutations

Viðhorf íslenskra kvenna til erfðaráðgjafar og erfðaprófa á BRCA1 og BRCA2 stökkbreytingum


The aim of this study was to explore the attitudes of Icelandic women towards existing genetic information, genetic counseling and genetic testing for BRCA mutations which dramatically increase risk for aggressive cancers.

Materials and methods

Women attending the cancer prevention clinic in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, from October 12th until November 20th 2015 received an invitation to participate. Participation involved answering a short online questionnaire about background, family history of cancer as well as attitudes towards genetic counseling, BRCA testing and preventive use of such information. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were used to describe differences in attitudes towards those questions between subgroups of women.


1129 women (69% response rate) answered the questionnaire. Mean age was 47 years (span 21-76 years). Around half (47%) had heard fairly much about the mutations. Independent of family history of cancer, the majority of women were positive towards receiving genetic counseling (79%) and to undergo genetic testing (83%) for BRCA mutation with younger women being more interested than older women. On the other hand, only 4% of the women had already received genetic counseling and 7% undergone genetic testing. Women with family history of cancer were more knowledgeable about BRCA mutations (p<0.0001) and were less afraid of the consequence of being a mutation carrier (p<0.0001) compared to those with little or no family history. Regardless of family history, half (49%) worried that results from genetic testing could influence their health insurance. Almost all, or 97% of the women, were positive or very positive toward using existing genetic information obtained through scientific work, to inform affected indi­viduals of their mutation status.


Icelandic women are positive towards genetic counseling and testing for BRCA mutations although half of them worry that a positive result might affect their health insurance. Nevertheless, almost all women believe that existing genetic information should be used to inform carriers for preventive purposes.


Table I. Background information of women who took part in a study on the use of existing genetic information about BRCA mutations, genetic counseling and genetic testing.

Table II. Knowledge and interest in genetic counseling, genetic testing and the use of existing genetic information.

Table III. Knowledge, interest in genetic counseling, genetic testing and the use of existing genetic information by background information.

Table IV. Questions regarding attitudes towards genetic testing and carrier status by family history of cancer.

Þetta vefsvæði byggir á Eplica