Genetic Predisposition Testing for Cancer: Effects on Families' Lives

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Genetic testing to identify a predisposition to the development of cancer affects not only the person undergoing DNA analysis but also his or her entire family. Multiple complex issues arise in conjunction with the clinical application of this new tool for assessing cancer risk. Counseling families regarding genetic risk is multifaceted and requires genetic knowledge that may go beyond the expertise of the health care provider. The article describes the psychosocial effects of cancer predisposition testing on families, ethical and social concerns of cancer risk testing, and implications for nurses in counseling individuals and families considering predisposition testing.

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