Parents face challenges when deciding the best time to tell children that they may be at high risk for cancer
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When certain types of cancers run in families, genetic testing can determine whether the cause is hereditary. Genetic testing can help family members understand their cancer risk and make medical decisions to stay healthy. A test result can provide significant insight, but it also creates challenges for parents, because gene mutations that cause hereditary cancers can be passed from mothers and fathers to sons and daughters. People with these mutations must make difficult decisions about when to tell their children that they too may have inherited the mutation. (8/22/2017)

Expert Guidelines

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) establishes guidelines for people with an inherited mutation associated with cancer. NCCN recommends against genetic testing in children younger than 18 years when results would not impact medical management.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics developed a policy statement which represents recommendations developed collaboratively with respect to genetic testing and screening in children. The policy recommends: 

Specifically with regards to predictive genetic testing (e.g. testing for genes associated with cancer risk) the panel recommends:

Questions To Ask Your Health Care Provider


FORCE is a national nonprofit organization, established in 1999. Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by adult hereditary cancers.