Parental Preferences Surrounding Timing and Content of Consent Conversations for Clinical Germline Genetic Testing Following a Child’s New Cancer Diagnosis
Belinda N. Mandrell, Liza Marie Johnson, Mary Caples, Jami Gattuso, Jamie L. Maciaszek, Roya Mostafavi, Katianne M. Howard Sharp, Kim E. Nichols
JCO Precision Oncology, 20 October 2022
Clinical genomic testing is increasingly being used to direct pediatric cancer care. Many centers are interested in offering testing of tumors and paired germline tissues at or near the time of cancer diagnosis. We conducted this study to better understand parent preferences surrounding timing and content of consent conversations for clinical germline genetic testing of their children with cancer as a part of real-time cancer care.
Patients and Methods
A seven-question survey developed by the Division of Cancer Predisposition and collaborators at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (St Jude) was distributed to members of the St Jude Patient Family Advisory Council, which included parents of childhood cancer survivors and bereaved parents whose children with cancer had died. Parents were asked to provide free text comments after each question. Qualitative methods were used to derive codes from parent comments, and survey results were depicted using descriptive statistics.
The survey was completed by 172 parents. Ninety-three (54%) endorsed an approach for consent conversations ≥ 1 month after cancer diagnosis, whereas 58 (34%) endorsed an approach at 1-2 weeks and 21 (12%) at 1-2 days. Needing time to adjust to a new or relapsed cancer diagnosis and feeling overwhelmed were frequent themes; however, parents acknowledged the urgency and importance of testing. Parents desired testing of as many cancer-related genes as possible, with clinical utility the most important factor for proceeding with testing. Most parents (75%) desired germline results to be disclosed in person, preferably by a genetic counselor.
Parents described urgency and benefits associated with germline testing, but desired flexibility in timing to allow for initial adjustment after their child’s cancer diagnosis.
Editor’s note: JCO is an American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal.