Most Parents Communicate BRCA Test Results to Offspring

Initial offspring responses most frequently neutral or relief; minority report distress or concern

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of parents who get tested for BRCA1/2 mutations share the test results with their offspring, according to a study published online Jan. 9 in Cancer.

Angela R. Bradbury, M.D., from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues investigated the prevalence and predictors of parent communication of their BRCA1/2 test results to their offspring. Participants with at least one child younger than 25 years, who had BRCA1/2 testing, completed semi-structured interviews. Associations with communication were evaluated.

The investigators found that 61 percent of parents completed the interviews (253 parents), 29 percent of whom were BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. Of 505 offspring, 66 percent of them learned of their parent's test result. Communication to offspring was significantly associated with older offspring age, offspring gender, negative test result, and parent education. Initial offspring responses were most frequently neutral (41 percent) or relief (28 percent); 13 percent expressed concern and 11 percent experienced distress in response to parental communication of their test results.

"Many parents communicate their BRCA1/2 test results to young offspring. Parents' perceptions of offspring responses appear to vary by offspring age and parent test result. A better understanding of how young offspring respond to information about hereditary risk for adult cancer could provide opportunities to optimize adaptive psychosocial responses to risk information and performance of health behaviors," the authors write.

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