Factors impacting adolescent and young adult cancer patients’ decision to pursue genetic counseling and testing

Megan Morand, Michael Roth, Susan K. Peterson, Erica M. Bednar, Aarti Ramdaney, J. Andrew Livingston, Angela Yarbrough, Jessica Corredor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients face challenges when navigating cancer treatment and survivorship. Many are at risk for cancer predisposition syndromes; however, factors influencing pursuit of genetic counseling and testing have not been reported. We describe AYA cancer patients’ decision-making process, including motivational factors and barriers, as it relates to utilization of genetic services. Methods: Thirty AYAs diagnosed with cancer previously referred for cancer predisposition genetic counseling completed semi-structured interviews via audio-only Zoom calls. Thematic analysis was used to perform qualitative analysis and identify major themes. Results: The sample comprised 21 AYAs who had genetic counseling and nine who did not. Motivational factors identified included learning genetic counseling is an available service, concern about the impact of a hereditary syndrome on family members and family planning, learning about the need for cancer screening or prevention, affordability of genetic testing, and easing worry about additional cancer risks. For those who did not pursue genetic counseling, barriers included scheduling or other priorities, worry, and cost. However, the majority expressed they would reconsider genetic counseling in the future. Conclusion: AYA cancer patients have similar motivational factors to pursue genetic counseling compared to other patients; however, their younger age of diagnosis may alter how these factors affect decision-making. While there are barriers limiting access to genetic services, they did not decrease interest in future genetic counseling for most patients. Genetic counseling and testing should be discussed with patients who previously declined genetic services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5481-5489
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Adolescents and young adults (AYAs)
  • Genetic counseling
  • Genetic testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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