Genetic Testing: Another Sword of Damocles? Psychological and Social Implications

Presentation Description: Genetic testing for hereditary cancer susceptibility offers the promise, in some cases, of providing a clear explanation of why cancer has occurred in a child, potential access for targeted treatments as they emerge, and screening and possible early detection for healthy siblings.  However, the impact of pediatric cancer genetic testing on children is largely unknown, and raises a host of psychological, social, and ethical issues. This presentation reviewed existing research literature on children and genetic testing, offered clinical examples, and discussed the developmental, familial, medical and cultural factors which should be considered in decision-making about cancer genetic testing for children.


Andrea Farkas Patenaude, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Director of Psycho-Oncology Research, Division of Pediatric Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, MA

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