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Test husband? What age for kids?

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Ask-the-Expert Online Conference

Question from JNelling: I was diagnosed about a year ago at age 46. My mother, 78, was just diagnosed and my mother-in-law also had breast cancer. I am thinking that in order to provide any useful information to my children, my husband would have to be tested too. Is this correct? If either of us is positive, at what age should my kids be tested?
Answers - Carol Cherry, M.S.N., R.N., A.P.R.N., B.C. It's recommended to meet with a genetics professional to look at the entire family history, and the red flags as discussed earlier. Also, it's important that children make an independent decision about their own personal desire for genetic testing. There isn't a recommended age given by the professionals, but the counselor helps the individual make that decision for themselves.
Terri McHugh With female children, if there is a hereditary link, ideally we encourage them to consider genetic testing at age 20, or again, 10 years younger than the age of youngest family diagnosis. The purpose of having them tested at that age would be to have them on-target with their breast screening, and if they're not ready to test at that age, to ensure that they are being screened appropriately.
Carol Cherry, M.S.N., R.N., A.P.R.N., B.C. It is not every 20-year-old who is ready to pursue testing. It is a very individual decision.
Terri McHugh One other consideration with children of mutation carriers, both male and female children, is that in today's world there is the chance for pre-implantation genetic selection. In short, what that means is a woman or couple could choose to have in vitro fertilization and choose the embryos that are not affected with the mutation to be reimplanted. That again is a very individual choice, but something you should be aware of.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference Breast Cancer Risk and Your Family featured Terri McHugh, D.O., and Carol Cherry, M.S.N., R.N., A.P.R.N., B.C. answering your questions about genetics and breast cancer, and how your family could be affected.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2008.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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