But, she added, "it may be possible that sharing may be good for children in adapting to this information."
The findings are published in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The lack of definitive data on when -- or if -- to discuss genetic test results with children is a real problem, Bradbury said.
"As we move genetic testing forward for cancer or other illnesses, we have to consider the context of the whole family and focus our counseling to the whole family, and not just the person who comes in for testing," Bradbury said. "We should learn more about how and when we should talk to children about this, so that we can promote healthy behaviors without causing too much anxiety for the offspring."
Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, agreed that the psychological component of genetic testing needs more attention.
"This is the tip of a very scary iceberg," Brenner said. "We don't know the psychological consequences [of BRCA testing], not only to the person who has the test, but to her family members."
Brenner thinks guidelines to help parents deal with this information are needed. So is help from doctors and genetic counselors in counseling family members, especially children, she added.
For more on genetic testing, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Angela Bradbury, M.D., director, Fox Chase Cancer Centers Family Risk Assessment Program, Philadelphia; Barbara Brenner, executive director, Breast Cancer Action, San Francisco; Aug. 20, 2007, Journal of Clinical Oncology