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Background: Because of the uncertain efficacy of breast cancer screening in women at increased risk of developing breast cancer, bilateral prophylactic oophorectomy and mastectomy are considered management options for high-risk women. Data on the attitudes to prophylactic strategies of high-risk women who have not attended specialist clinics are needed to ascertain the need for patient education and provide the basis for planning of support services. Methods: Three hundred seventy-one women unaffected by cancer and with unknown mutation status from families with a dominantly inherited susceptibility to breast cancer, recruited through a large Australian population-based, epidemiological study, were assessed using a mailed self-administered questionnaire with validated measures of psychological outcome. Results: Sixteen percent of women reported considering prophylactic mastectomy, and 1% had already had the procedure. Among women with a family history of breast/ovarian cancer, 33% had considered and 5% had already had a prophylactic oophorectomy. Twenty-three percent of women reported considering taking tamoxifen if it were shown to prevent breast cancer. Consideration of prophylactic oophorectomy (OR = 1.51 for a 10% change in perceived risk, 95% CI 1.14-1.99, p = 0.0045) and tamoxifen (OR = 1.14 for a 10% change in perceived risk, 95% CI 1.002-1.30, p = 0.047) were positively associated with perceived cancer risk. Conclusions: Attitudes to prophylactic surgery and psychological distress levels in high-risk women participating in an epidemiological study appear to be comparable to those of women attending familial cancer clinics and indicate that women attending high-risk clinics may be representative of the larger population of women at increased risk.