Douma KF, Aaronson NK, Vasen HF, Bleiker EM
OBJECTIVES: Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is characterized by the development of multiple adenomas in the colon that can lead to colorectal cancer. Being a carrier for FAP is hypothesized to have a negative impact on psychosocial well-being. This paper reviews the current literature on the psychosocial aspects of FAP.
METHODS: Four literature databases were used to identify all papers published between 1986 and 2007 about psychosocial and behavioral issues in FAP related to genetic testing. The following topics were reviewed: uptake and psychosocial impact of genetic testing, endoscopic screening behavior and psychosocial well-being in general.
RESULTS: Seventeen papers were identified. Across studies, genetic test uptake varied between 62 and 97%. Two out of three studies showed clinical levels of anxiety and/or depression after genetic testing. A minority of individuals were not reassured by a negative test result, and intended to continue endoscopic surveillance. Well-being (e.g. quality of life, family functioning) was found to be lower in some studies, while comparable to the general population in other studies. The studies had several shortcomings, such as mixed patient population (e.g. colorectal and breast cancer) and small sample sizes, and provided no information on other potentially important issues, such as psychosexual development.
CONCLUSIONS: Future studies should employ larger sample sizes and standardized measurements. Additionally, future studies should address the long-term consequences of genetic testing for FAP, psychosexual development and consequences of FAP for the family as a whole.
Netherlands Cancer Institute