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It’s Better to Share Genetic Test Results with Kids

May 18, 2009

 Many women now have the option of having a genetic test to determine their cancer risk. Now, a new study shows mothers who share their test results with their children are more satisfied with their decision that those who don’t.

Researchers from the Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center interviewed 221 mothers and 124 co-parents (who were primarily fathers) prior to the mother’s genetic test for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. These genes are responsible for a majority of inherited breast and ovarian cancers.

Results showed 63 percent of the mothers and 44 percent of fathers talked with their children about the test results within one month of receiving them. Sixty eight percent of the mothers and 55 percent of the fathers talked with their children about the results within six months of testing. Mothers were more likely to discuss results than fathers.

Mothers who disclosed their test results to their children reported a more open parent-child communication relationship and were happier with their decision.

“Cancer is a family matter. It’s not surprising that we’re seeing moms and dads working together to share this information with their children,” Kenneth Tercyak, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, was quoted as saying.  “Our ongoing research focuses on a family-centered approach to supporting parents’ decisions about whether and when to talk with children about cancer genetic test results.”

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