A very small study found that when people were told about breast cancer gene test results over the phone, they often had more worries and stress than when the results were told to them in person. The results were presented at the 2008 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
Before they had the test, most people said they wanted to get breast cancer gene testing results by phone. A phone call was said to be more convenient than scheduling and getting to an office meeting to review the results. But only 25% of people who already had learned they had an abnormal breast cancer gene said they'd prefer to get their test results by phone.
Any kind of abnormal test results need to be given with detailed information and emotional support so the person can ask questions, make sense of the results, and handle the worry and stress that may go along with getting abnormal results. While a phone call may be more convenient, your healthcare professional may not be able to accurately gauge and respond to your reaction to an abnormal result over the phone.
If you're going to have a medical test and the results could affect your future healthcare, talk to your medical team before the test about how you want to get your results. You may prefer a phone call and your healthcare team can help you sort through what's best for you if the results are abnormal. Based on the results presented here, a face-to-face meeting to review the test results and what they mean for you and your health may be a better option.
The Breastcancer.org Communication With Healthcare Providers page has tips for making your relationship with the doctors and other medical professionals on whom you depend the best it can be.