Online Resource May Increase Patient-Provider Discussions on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome

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Online interactive tools may help women to increase their awareness and knowledge of family history, and encourage more patient-provider discussions on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, according to study results published in the August 2013 issue of Patient Education and Counseling.

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is rare, and screening for it is only recommended for women with a strong family history of cancer. Most patients, however, are not aware of their family history and have difficulty understanding genetic concepts. Cancer in the Family, an online clinical decision support tool, was developed to help women calculate their risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. To test the efficacy of the website, the researchers enrolled 48 patients and 9 providers to participate in the pilot study.

Almost all patients (96%) used the tool to calculate their personal risk, and 65% of those patients shared their results with providers. The website prompted 67% of participants to enter their complete family history and led 88% of patients to start conversations about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome risk and family history with their providers.

Although the tool increased patient awareness, the authors note that online resources should not replace conversations between patients and health care providers.