Background/Aims: National guidelines endorse using evidence-based tools to identify those at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC). This study aimed to evaluate whether women deemed not to be at increased risk of being a BRCA mutation carrier; the majority of those screened, recall, understand and accept the implications of these results for breast cancer risk. Methods: We conducted an online survey with women (n = 148) who screened negative on a brief HBOC screener. Results: While women tended to accept HBOC screener as accurate (range 9–45; mean 32, SD 5.0), less than half (43%) accurately recalled their result. Only 52% understood that they were at low risk of carrying a mutation, and just 34% correctly understood their breast cancer risk. African American women were less likely to recall (33 vs. 53% respectively, OR 0.5, p = 0.03), understand (42 vs. 63% respectively, OR 0.4, p = 0.02), and accept (mean 31 vs. 33 respectively, β –2.1, p = 0.02) the result compared to Whites. Conclusions: Our findings show that those at low risk of carrying a BRCA1/2 mutation had limited understanding of the distinction between mutation risk and breast cancer risk. Theory-based communication strategies are needed to increase the understanding of the implications of being at low risk for hereditary cancers.

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