Adolescent girls from BRCA1/2 mutation-positive and breast cancer families have high self-esteem but greater breast-cancer specific-distress compared with their peers, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

For the study, investigators surveyed more than 250 girls aged 11 to 19 years with 1 or more relatives with breast or a familial BRCA1/2 mutation, 112 peers without a family history of breast cancer, and their mothers. Assessments evaluated psychosocial adjustment, breast-cancer specific distress, and perceived risk of breast cancer.

Results showed that general psychosocial adjustment did not significantly differ between girls with a breast cancer family history and those who did not, except girls with a breast cancer family history had significantly higher self-esteem (P =.01).

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However, breast cancer family history-positive girls had higher breast cancer-specific distress compared with girl who did not (P <.001).

Girls with a positive breast cancer family history were also more likely to perceive a greater risk of breast cancer in adulthood than their peers (P ≤ .001). Girls from BRCA1/2-positive families were specifically more likely to report an increased risk than other girls with a breast cancer family history and their peers (P <.001).

The study further revealed that older age was associated with perceived risk of breast cancer in all groups. Increased levels of breast cancer-specific distress among adolescent girls were associated with higher self-perceived cancer risk among the adolescent girls and increased breast cancer-specific distress among mothers.

“Understanding the impact is important to optimize responses to growing up in families at familial and genetic risk for breast cancer, particularly given the debate over the genetic testing of children for cancer susceptibility in adulthood,” the authors conclude.


1. Bradbury AR, Patrick-Miller L, Schwartz LA, et al. Psychosocial adjustment and perceived risk among adolescent girls from families with BRCA1/2 or breast cancer history. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Aug 22. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.66.3450. [Epub ahead of print]