Dr. Angela Bradbury of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia said a primary motivation for parents to get tested for hereditary cancer genes is to understand better the risk their children face. However, many parents struggle with the decision of whether, and when, to tell their minor children the results of such tests.
To help determine what factors make parents more or less likely to report their test results to their children, Bradbury and colleagues interviewed 253 parents who had genetic testing for mutations in two common breast cancer-related genes -- BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- that can be inherited.
All parents had children age 25 and under at the time of the genetic test. The investigators asked parents whether they told their children their test results, and if they did, how they felt their children reacted to the information.
The study, published online ahead of the print issue of the journal Cancer, found among 505 children, 66 percent learned of their parents' test results. Although, parents were more likely to report their results to older children; about half of those ages 10-13 and some even younger children were told of their parents' test results, the study found.
Also, parents were more likely to share negative test results -- meaning no mutation was found -- particularly if the child was female, Bradbury said.