Familial Cancer

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 675–682

Can we test for hereditary cancer at 18 years when we start surveillance at 25? Patient reported outcomes


  • Aisha S. Sie
    • Department of Human GeneticsRadboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
  • Judith B. Prins
    • Department of Medical PsychologyRadboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
  • Liesbeth Spruijt
    • Department of Human GeneticsRadboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
  • C. Marleen Kets
    • Department of Human GeneticsRadboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
    • Department of Human GeneticsRadboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10689-013-9644-9

Cite this article as:
Sie, A.S., Prins, J.B., Spruijt, L. et al. Familial Cancer (2013) 12: 675. doi:10.1007/s10689-013-9644-9


DNA-testing for BRCA1/2 or Lynch syndrome is possible from the age of 18 years, although surveillance usually starts at 25. Some patients regret their decision of testing before age 25. This retrospective study evaluates whether the testing age should be above 25 years to prevent adverse effects such as regret or decisional conflict, by determining the percentage and characteristics of patients reporting these problems. 111 of 219 patients (51 %) tested for BRCA1/2 mutations or Lynch syndrome between 18 and 25 years from July 1996 to February 2011, returned self-report surveys. Primary measures were regret, decisional conflict and family influence. Secondary measures included quality of life (QoL), coping style, impact of genetic testing, and risk perception. Median age was 27 [21–40] years, with 86 % female. 73 % was tested for BRCA1/2, 27 % for Lynch syndrome. Only 3 % reported regret, however 39 % had moderate (32 %) to severe (7 %) decisional conflict. Regression analysis revealed that decisional conflict was associated with more monitoring/neutral coping style (p < 0.03) or paternal/no family mutation (p < 0.02); there were no differences in QoL, impact or risk perception. 42 % were mutation carriers, showing equal decisional conflict to non-carriers. 68 % would recommend testing <25 years; 77 % desired surveillance <25 years if a mutation carrier. Almost no patient tested for hereditary cancer between 18 and 25 years regretted this decision. A third reported retrospective decisional conflict, especially those actively seeking information when faced with a threat and/or those with a paternal or unknown inheritance. These patients may benefit from decisional support and personalized information.


Young adultHereditaryCancerBRCALynch syndromeDecision making

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013