Advances in molecular biology and genetics have led to the identification of the breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, along with tests to detect mutations in these genes. Although the appropriateness of BRCA1/2 genetic testing for children has been debated in the literature, little is known about the attitudes of individuals who have undergone cancer susceptibility testing. The present study focused on attitudes toward BRCA1 testing for children among 218 adults from a Utah-based kindred who had received BRCA1 test results. Results indicated that approximately one-fourth of the participants would permit BRCA1 testing for children under the age of 18. General attitudes about genetic testing were predictive of attitudes toward the testing of children. In addition, men and individuals without a BRCA1 mutation were more likely to agree that minors should be allowed BRCA1 testing. Individuals whose mother had been affected with breast cancer were less likely to permit testing for minors. Among parents of minor children, less than one-fifth indicated that they would want BRCA1 testing for their own children; carrier status was not predictive of attitudes toward testing their own children. As breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility testing continues to be disseminated into clinical settings, there may be an increase in the number of test requests for minors. The findings of the present study represent an important step in exploring attitudes about genetic testing of children among individuals who have received cancer susceptibility test results.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.