Attitudes of 47 Mothers of Pediatric Oncology Patients Toward Genetic Testing for Cancer Predisposition
Patenaude, Andrea Farkas
Fairclough, Diane L.
Li, Frederick P.
Journal of Clinical Oncology. 1996 Feb; 14(2): 415-421.
PURPOSE: To assess attitudes toward testing for cancer susceptibility genes, we interviewed mothers of pediatric oncology patients about their cancer causation theories, interest in hypothetical predisposition testing for themselves and their healthy children, and anticipated impact of testing. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The subjects were 47 mothers of two or more living children, one of whom was 6 to 24 months postdiagnosis of cancer. Potential risks and benefits of hypothetical genetic predisposition testing for cancer susceptibility were described. A semistructured interview assessed the following: (1) recall of discussions with the pediatric oncologist about the possible role of heredity in causing the child's cancer; (2) mothers' personal theories of the etiology of their child's cancer; (3) family cancer history; (4) interest in genetic predisposition testing for themselves and unaffected (cancer-free) children; and (5) expected sequelae of testing. RESULTS: If genetic cancer predisposition tests were available, 51% of mothers would test themselves and 42% would test healthy children, even with no medical benefit. With established medical benefit, an additional 36% of mothers would seek testing for themselves and another 49% would test their healthy children. Interest in cancer predisposition testing among mothers extended far beyond those with significant family histories of cancer. Most mothers would consider minor children's wishes in the decision about testing and would tell children under age 18 their test results. CONCLUSION: As increasing numbers of cancer susceptibility genes are identified, parents of pediatric oncology patients may be receptive to opportunities to test themselves and their healthy children. Counseling will be important to aid in decisions about testing. Research is essential to evaluate the long-term impact of predisposition testing.
Adults; Age Factors; Attitudes; Cancer; Children; Counseling; Consent; Disclosure; Family Planning; Genes; Genetic Counseling; Genetic Predisposition; Genetic Testing; Genetic Screening; Knowledge; Methods; Mothers; Parental Consent; Parents; Patients; Psychological Stress; Recall; Research; Risks and Benefits; Survey;
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