“Take Your Time, then Follow Your Heart:” Previvors’ Advice for Communicating about Family Planning after Testing Positive for a BRCA Genetic Variant

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BRCA1/2, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, genetic risk, genetic testing, family planning

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Introduction: The purpose of this study was to identify previvors’ strategies for communicating about family planning after testing positive for a variant of the “breast cancer gene” (BRCA). Method: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 20 women currently in committed romantic relationships, but who had not yet completed family planning upon finding out about their BRCA mutation status. Results: Data analysis produced three categories of participant advice given to newly diagnosed previvors. Participants advised the following: (a) the importance of engaging in two-way dialogue with their partners/spouses across the life span of the partnership, (b) seeking information on new technologies and information regarding family-planning and genetic-cancer-prevention decision-making, as well as recognizing where to go for different support needs, and (c) managing and acknowledging emotions surrounding their BRCA-related health decisions. Discussion: Previvors who have already had family-planning and genetic-cancer-risk conversations had important advice for newly diagnosed previvors. Practical advice for starting and managing conversations with partners/spouses, family members, and friends are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Families, Systems, & Health, v. 35, issue 4, p. 486-497