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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the risks, benefits, and utility of testing for adult-onset hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) in adolescents and young adults.
STUDY DESIGN: We evaluated interest in genetic testing of adolescents for adult-onset HBOC genes through semistructured interviews with mothers and adolescents who had previously participated in breast cancer research or had pursued (mothers) clinical testing for HBOC.
RESULTS: The majority of mothers (73%) and daughters (75%) were interested in the daughter having genetic testing and were motivated by the future medical utility and current social utility of relieving anxiety and allowing them to prepare. Mothers and daughters both reported that approximately 3 years in the future was the best time to test the daughter regardless of the current age of the daughter. Overall, both mothers and daughters expressed the importance of the involvement of the mother to provide educational and emotional support but ultimately it was the daughter's decision to test. Balancing the independence and maturity of the daughter while reinforcing communication and support within the dyad was a prominent theme throughout the interviews.
CONCLUSIONS: There is interest among some high-risk adolescents and young adults to engage in genetic counseling and undergo testing. Providing pretest and posttest genetic counseling, assessing preferences for parent involvement, and offering psychosocial support may be important if genetic testing for HBOC is offered to adolescents and young adults before age 25 years.