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A descriptive study of the genetic counseling environment of men with breast cancer in the United States

Hight, Elizabeth (2013) A descriptive study of the genetic counseling environment of men with breast cancer in the United States. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In society, breast cancer is erroneously considered to be a female disease. Information regarding the psychosocial, sociocultural, and familial experiences of men diagnosed with breast cancer remains scant. Given the low incidence of male breast cancer in the general population, all diagnosis are considered as an indication for referral for genetic counseling and/or testing. Thus, counselors are often involved in the care of men with breast cancer and assist patients in understanding and adapting to the medical and psychosocial implications of genetic contributions to disease. Genetic counselors are in a position to inform not only men with breast cancer, but also all at risk family members of the implication of genetic risk information. Because of the broad reach of counselors to many individuals, which makes it relevant to public health, it is important to get a baseline picture of the current state of the counseling environment so that potential issues can be identified that might inadvertently perpetuate the stereotypes surrounding these men. It is also important for counselors to be aware of their own beliefs about the process of counseling men with breast cancer as such beliefs can influence assumptions made about the counselee and therefore can potentially affect the dynamics of the counseling session. We conducted a survey study of genetic counselors in the United States to assess these issues. The majority of respondents are female with 1-5 years’ experiences in cancer genetic counseling and reported seeing an average of 1-5 males breast cancer patient per year. The genetic counseling environment appears to be supportive for men with breast cancer. Gender does not play a role in the comfort level of either the counselor or counselee. Men appear to pay a more active role in the genetic counseling process than the literature suggests. This may be due to the fact that counselors consider themselves to be an important source of support for these men and often take a proactive approach in the assessment of psychosocial needs. In conclusion, more research is needed to determine specific informational and psychosocial needs of men with breast cancer so that counselors can tailor a session which will assist men to make optimal health care choices.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hight, Elizabethopela@pitt.eduOPELA
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorGettig, Elizabethbgettig@pitt.eduBGETTIG
Committee MemberFeingold, Eleanorfeingold@pitt.eduFEINGOLD
Committee MemberCauley, Janejcauley@edc.pitt.eduJCAULEY
Committee MemberMarshall, Megan
Date: 27 September 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 May 2013
Approval Date: 27 September 2013
Submission Date: 23 July 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 108
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Human Genetics
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: genetic counseling male breast cancer
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2013 16:18
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:15


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