Inequality of use of Cancer Genetics Services by members of breast, ovarian and colorectal cancer families in South East Scotland

Susan M. Holloway (Lead / Corresponding author), Birgitta Bernhard, Harry Campbell, Roseanne Cetnarskyj, Wayne W. K. Lam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Some studies have found a deficiency of male, younger and more socially deprived individuals amongst referrals to and/or attendees at cancer genetics clinics. We investigated this inequality of use of genetics services from data on 4,178 Scottish patients with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer (BOC) or colorectal cancer (CRC) referred from 2000-2006. Some 98% BOC and 60% CRC referrals were female. Median age of female referrals was greater in the CRC than the BOC group (45.3 vs. 38.7 years, P < 0.001). Both groups of referrals were less socially deprived than the general population (P < 0.001) and the CRC less deprived than the BOC group (P < 0.001). Some 88% patients attended the first appointment offered. Attendance was greater in the CRC group (P < 0.001) and in older patients (P < 0.001) and in the BOC group was highly significantly lower in more socially deprived patients (P < 0.001). Male relatives may feel counselling is less relevant and relatives of both sexes may delay counselling until approaching the age of onset of cancer in a relative. We suggest that medical professionals and the general public may have more knowledge about the genetics of BOC than of CRC. Thus relatives in CRC families seeking counselling are likely to be those with access to more information. The lower attendance amongst more deprived relatives in BOC families may result from poor understanding of the reason for referral. These findings confirm the need to provide male, younger and more socially deprived relatives with more helpful information on cancer genetics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-264
    Number of pages6
    JournalFamilial Cancer
    Issue number3
    Early online date2 Feb 2008
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008


    • Breast cancer
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Genetic counselling
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Scotland

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Genetics
    • Oncology
    • Genetics(clinical)
    • Cancer Research


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