Understanding the unmet needs of young women who have a breast cancer gene mutation and live with cancer risk

Start Year: 2014
Finish Year: 2017
Chief Investigator: Dr Laura Forrest
Grant Type: Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institution: University of Melbourne

Young women who carry a breast cancer gene mutation are at significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with women in the general population. These young women are offered regular screening, such as having annual mammograms, and also have surgical options, such as mastectomy, to manage their breast cancer risk. However, some of these young women engaged in screening will still develop breast cancer.

At the same time, they experience fundamental life events and are making important decisions about meeting partners and committing to relationships, deciding whether and when to have children, and developing their careers.

Balancing these life choices and events with annual cancer screening, risk-reducing surgery and, for some, cancer treatment, creates a complex situation that may be an emotional burden.

While these young women receive optimal medical care, they may require more psychological and emotional support.

This study aims to develop a support model for these young women that complements their medical care but addresses the complexities of making important life decisions while balancing significant cancer risks, risk management strategies and cancer treatment.