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The scope of conditions for which preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is licensed has recently been expanded in the United Kingdom to include genetic predisposition to adult-onset cancer. This qualitative interview study explores reproductive decision making, knowledge of and attitudes to reproductive genetic testing (prenatal diagnosis and PGD) with 25 women aged 18-45 years who received a positive BRCA test in the United Kingdom before having children. In this cohort of younger women, BRCA testing was motivated by risk management decisions; for some, BRCA status has affected their later decisions about having children. The perceived severity of hereditary breast/ovarian cancer (HBOC) influences thoughts about passing on the mutation to children and willingness to consider reproductive genetic testing, but most participants do not believe HBOC is a condition for which pregnancy termination is justified. PGD is considered more acceptable and advantageous because it would prevent transmission to future generations, but women have concerns about selecting embryos and the fact that they and affected family members would not have been selected. Women would also be deterred by the need to undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and ovarian stimulation for PGD. Awareness of reproductive testing options was very variable among the cohort. The findings highlight the complexities of reproductive decision making for young women who knowingly carry a BRCA mutation, and the dilemmas inherent to reproductive genetic testing when the condition being tested for also affects a prospective parent. Counselling and psychological support for BRCA-positive women and couples concerning reproductive options are strongly indicated.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/ejhg.2011.146

Type

Journal article

Journal

Eur J Hum Genet

Publication Date

01/2012

Volume

20

Pages

4 - 10

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Breast Neoplasms, Decision Making, Female, Genes, BRCA1, Genes, BRCA2, Genetic Counseling, Genetic Testing, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Middle Aged, Mutation, Prenatal Diagnosis, Risk Management, Young Adult