Privacy and property issues for a familial cancer service
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2008; 5(1): 33-37
Approximately 1 in 30 people develop cancer due to an underlying familial predisposition. Genetic counselling and testing for people with (and at risk of) familial cancer are becoming more widely available, but service providers need to address challenging issues in relation to privacy and property. As in any counselling situation, a genetic counsellor seeks to ensure that the principles of autonomy, confidentiality, beneficence, and equity operate in favour of the client. But in dealing with a familial disorder, the application of these principles to the individual must be balanced with the potential for these principles to apply to other family members. This paper summarises the recent experience of a familial cancer service in seeking to avoid situations in which these principles, operating for both individual clients and their relatives, can come into conflict.
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