The genetic risk communication from proband to relatives varies from family to family, and patients often need support with the communication of genetic test results and making decisions to manage hereditary cancer risks.
The aim of this study was to characterize the communication of BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) genetic risk from proband to first-degree relatives (FDRs) using a social network framework.
We characterized network and nonnetwork factors to explore their association with which FDRs were told about the genetic risk and whether or not relatives underwent genetic testing. Ninety-two female probands with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer who have confirmed BRCA1/2 mutations participated in the study. Communication of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk was assessed between 92 probands and their 417 FDRs.
Of 92 probands, 94.5% (n = 87) communicated their genetic test result to at least one of their FDRs. Of FDRs older than 18 years, 19.9% (n = 72) have genetic testing. Emotional closeness, educational level of the proband, and relative's age were significantly associated with communicating test results with FDRs.
Communication of genetic risk with the FDRs after having a BRCA1/2 gene-mutation–positive test result was high in this group of cancer patients. However, the rate of genetic testing among FDRs was low.
Implications for Practice
Probands' educational level and age of relatives for cascade genetic screening should be considered during counseling. Interventions to support women with BRCA1/2 mutations during the communication process and their family members' engagement in testing and risk-reducing strategies are needed.