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Phone Counseling Beneficial For Rural Women With Cancer Gene Tests

Update Date: Nov 12, 2014 12:14 PM EST

Telephone counseling on genetic testing is as effective as in-person counseling for women at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer, according to a new research.

In-person genetic counseling is available for women in cities but same is not the case with women in rural areas, the study noted. 

The study included around 1,000 women at risk for hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer. They were given a personalized brochure and other materials about genetic testing. A genetic counselor was also assigned to review the materials with each woman. 

50 percent of the women met the counselor in person while the other half talked with the counselor on the phone. Women were surveyed for a week after counseling. 

Women were more likely to choose genetic testing after in-person counseling, but the researchers found no difference between in-person and phone counseling in terms of women's levels of knowledge gained about genetic testing or in their anxiety, distress or quality of life, according to the press release.

"This research shows that using the telephone is a viable alternative to in-person genetic counseling," study author Anita Kinney, of the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, said in a university news release.

"Using the phone, we can effectively increase women's access to genetic counseling services. And that can help them make informed and lifesaving decisions for their health no matter where they live," she said.

The study had been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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