Genetic Counseling Program

Untitled Document

Application of the NSGC Practice Guidelines for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetic Counseling to Male Patients.  By Kati L. Joseph

Capstone Project Committee: Nancy Callanan, MS, CGC (UNCG),Chair; Adam Buchanan, MS, CGC (Duke); Tracey Leedom, MS, CGC (Duke); Robin King, MS, CGC ; and Scott Richter, PhD (UNCG), Statistical Consultant

Background: Nearly all individuals who seek genetic counseling for an indication of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome are female. Yet, in recent years studies focusing on the experience of males who have genetic counseling for HBOC have shown unexpected psychosocial needs and expectations that may differ from female patients. Purpose: In light of these findings, this study aims to determine whether genetic counselors utilize National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) guidelines for HBOC counseling similarly for their male patients as they do for their female patients. Given the prior data that show unique psychosocial needs and concerns for male patients seeking HBOC, we hypothesized that use of guidelines might differ between male and female patients Methods:  An anonymous online survey, which was pilot tested with a small sample of genetic counselors, was emailed to the general NSGC listserv. Participants were required to be current or former cancer genetic counselors and must have seen at least one male patient for HBOC. Results:  Two hundred fourteen cancer counselors answered the 55-item survey of their experiences with male patients and the utilization of professional guidelines for male and female patients. Crosstab analysis was used to determine utilization frequency of guidelines for male and female patients. Respondents reported that they use the guidelines with similar frequency for male and female patients. The majority of respondents (56%) did not feel that there were counseling issues specific to males that should be included in the guidelines and therefore reported that HBOC counseling for male and female patients is largely similar. However, 40% of participants answered “unsure” when asked about counseling issues for male patients not included in the guidelines. Conclusion:  These results suggest that there is room for expansion about our knowledge of males evaluated for HBOC, including future studies examining the needs and expectations of male patients seeking genetic counseling and a comparison of self-reports from male patients with the results of this study.

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  • "I chose to attend UNCG because of its shared learning environment and the access to some of the leading institutions in the country. "

  • "UNCG is a great fit for me. The program directors have extensive experience in the world of genetic counseling and provide you with opportunities to work with some of the best medical centers in the country. Our location allows us to have expert guest lecturers, many of whom you also get to work alongside or observe in your clinical rotations in your second year. We also have some really wonderful and unique opportunities as a part of this program: we observe in syndrome specific support groups and clinics, tour genetic laboratories, and are matched with a family with a genetic disease to learn what it is like to live with a genetic condition. Finally, our directors are genuinely invested in each of us, and care about our success and getting to know each of us personally."

  • "The director and assistant director do their best to ensure that our program provides a collaborative learning experience.  Both are active members of the Genetic Counseling community and strive to introduce you to all aspects of this field.  We also have renowned clinical sites and the beautiful state of North Carolina at our disposal.”