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Psychooncology. 2013 Sep;22(9):2024-31. doi: 10.1002/pon.3257. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Young adult daughters of BRCA1/2 positive mothers: what do they know about hereditary cancer and how much do they worry?

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



The objectives of this study are to determine (i) what daughters, ages 18-24 years, of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers understand about their 50% chance of carrying a BRCA1/2 mutation and about risk reduction or management options for mutation carriers, (ii) the extent and nature of daughters' cancer-related distress, and (iii) the effects of knowing mother's mutation status on daughters' future plans.


A total of 40 daughters, currently aged 18-24 years, of mothers who tested positive for a mutation in BRCA1/2 were invited by mail to participate (with contact information supplied by their mothers). Daughters participated in a qualitative telephone interview about the impact of learning their mother's mutation status on their understanding of their own cancer risks and their cancer-related distress, and their knowledge of screening strategies, risk-reducing surgery, current health status, and future plans. Participants also completed study-specific demographic and family history questionnaires, the Brief Symptom Inventory-18, Impact of Event Scale (with hereditary predisposition to breast/ovarian cancer as the event), and the Breast Cancer Genetic Counseling Knowledge Questionnaire.


Daughters' genetic knowledge is suboptimal; gaps and misconceptions were common. Over 1/3 of the daughters reported high cancer-related distress, despite normal levels of general distress. Disclosed genetic information raised future concerns, especially regarding childbearing.


Targeted professional attention to this high-risk cohort of young women is critical to inform the next generation of daughters of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and encourage recommended screening by age 25 years. Improved uptake of screening and risk reduction options could improve survival, and psychoeducation could reduce cancer-related distress.


BRCA1/2; cancer risk; hereditary breast/ovarian cancer; mutation carriers; preventive oncology; psychoeducational intervention

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