Dr. Robert Croyle, director of NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, comments on the genetic testing study.
What are the main implications of this study?
For clinicians who provide genetic counseling, the data clearly indicate that the issue of family planning should be raised and discussed, ideally with both wives and husbands. The fact that no husband married to a BRCA1 mutation carrier desired more children reflects a complex family dynamic that could produce decision conflicts that were never anticipated prior to genetic testing.
What further research is being done or needs to be done in this area?
We need further research on fertility behavior in high-risk families and populations to better understand the role of perceived risk of inherited disease. The initial work in this area focused on the emotional impact of genetic test results on individuals tested, but more recent work has examined the more complex interplay of risk information and communication among high-risk family members. Our own work has shown that an individual's reaction to a particular test result is moderated by their siblings' tests results as well as other factors.