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Testing Your Child For Cancer

Would You Have Your Child Tested?

If you had a crystal ball and could look into your child's future and know the probability of her developing breast or ovarian cancer, would you do it? If your answer is "yes," some of your curiosity could be satisfied.

There's a test in the medical community that tells a person if he or she is a carrier of the BRCA mutation, which can indicate a higher likelihood of cancer in the future. Estimated to cost about $3,000, the test is not something every family can afford. Price aside, many families may opt not to take the test, as it could put undue pressure or worry on a youngster who might otherwise lead a happy, carefree life. On the flip side, there might be potential benefits to knowing what a person's chances are for developing such a horrific illness. Having found out they have a higher chance of developing cancer, some people choose to avoid birth control or smoking, as both could potentially increase the likelihood of testing positive.

A moral dilemma arrives when parents make that choice for their minors, giving them no say in the matter. Tell me, if you had free access to such a test for your child, would you do it?

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snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 8 years
since smoking has its own problems, the only important thing to avoid here is birth control pills... so its not really worth it. im not a fan of birth control pills anyways thats just me
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
I am a physician (though not an oncologist or a specialist in genetics), and I have to agree with oceangirlsf and flyinggrip. Even if this was feasible, there are many other childhood diseases I would (or would like to if the technology existed, more realistically) test my hypothetical child for before cancer.
oceangirlsf oceangirlsf 8 years
Okay Babysugar - I am going to have to take you to task for this one. Usually your questions relate to something that might actually happen in a child's life but this one is just out there. As a genetics professional, I echo the sentiments of flyinggrip. This scenario just doesn't happen. Children are not tested for BRCA1 or BRCA...because carriers of these mutated genes are not at risk for childhood cancers. Raising this question perpetuates a myth and does a disservice to genetic testing and your readers!
ruby-soho ruby-soho 8 years
Does this remind anyone else of Gattaca?
Greggie Greggie 8 years
I don't really understand the point of doing it to an infant or child - are there steps you can take to prevent it at that point anyway? Wouldn't it only accomplish years of worrying ahead?
flyinggrip flyinggrip 8 years
As a cancer genetic counselor, my job is to educated individuals about genetic risk factors and genetic testing. Genetic testing for breast cancer risk is NOT recommended for children under the age of 18. It is the stance of most of the medical and genetic community that minors be given the chance to decided for themselves if they want the kind of information that this type of testing can provide. Genetic testing for cancer susceptibility genes is only recommended in cases where there is a risk of childhood cancers. Only in the case where a child's personal or family history would suggest the possibilty of a genetic syndrome that would indicate that a child was at an increased risk for a pediatric cancer, would a recommend testing a child.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 8 years
No I don't think I would.
jessie jessie 8 years
in all honesty...i don't this very moment..:shrug:
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