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Communicating genetic risk 

Communicating genetic risk
Chapter:
Communicating genetic risk
Author(s):

Clara Gaff

, Louise Keogh

, and Elizabeth Lobb

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198736134.003.0034
Page of

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date: 17 November 2017

The discovery of cancer predisposing genetic mutations has heightened community awareness of the link between family history, genetic constitution, and personal risk. The component of an individual’s cancer risk that is due to their genetic make-up can be described as their ‘genetic risk’. Knowledge of genetic risk can assist both individuals with cancer and unaffected individuals to make decisions about healthcare and inform relatives who may share that genetic risk. Accordingly, patients seek advice about their risk and its implications and management from general practitioners (primary healthcare physician) or cancer specialists. In this chapter, we discuss the interlinked processes of risk assessment, risk perception, and risk communication in the context of genetic risk of cancer. While this is only one component of an individual’s risk of cancer—other factors including lifestyle, medical history, and environmental exposures—the principles of risk communication are applicable to each of these individual risk factors.

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