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Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative
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David Kissane, Barry Bultz, Phyllis Butow, and Ilora Finlay

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199238361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238361.001.0001

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Communicating genetic risk

Communicating genetic risk

Chapter:
(p.259) Chapter 22 Communicating genetic risk
Source:
Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care
Author(s):

Elizabeth Lobb

Clara Gaff

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238361.003.0022

As cancer is common, many people have a family history of one or more relatives with a cancer diagnosis. The nature and extent of a family history of a specific cancer influences each family member's risk of developing the cancer: this component of an individual's cancer risk is called their genetic risk. Risk perception may be an important motivator of health-related behaviour. When communicating risk information, the health practitioner needs to be aware of the ways in which this information is processed. Inherited risk is shared within families, and the genetic risk status of one family member has implications for the others. Recent studies suggest that a more meaningful outcome relates to one of the goals of genetic counselling, facilitating adjustment. In this context, adjustment to living at increased risk of cancer may be achieved by exploring the personal meaning of that risk and its implications. Current models of risk communication suggest that this will have a positive effect on social and medical decision-making.

Keywords:   genetic risk, cancer, risk perception, risk information, genetic counselling, adjustment, communication, decision-making

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