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Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice

Open Access

Looking for RED FLAGS: identifying and supporting patients at risk of adverse psychological responses to genetic counselling and testing

  • S Buscombe1
Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice201210(Suppl 2):A17

Published: 12 April 2012


Public HealthFamily MemberCancer ResearchPsychological DistressGenetic Counselling

There is a significant body of research indicating having a genetic condition is emotionally burdensome for the individual and their family. One goal of cancer genetic counselling is to assist patients to adapt to the news that they and family members are at significantly increased risk of developing cancer. Numerous studies have shown that the majority of patients who attend cancer genetic services do not report significantly increased long-term psychological distress. However, a small number of patients present with pre-existing complex psychological issues or particular personality traits which are not readily apparent. This subgroup of individuals may experience adverse psychological responses and complex adjustment challenges following their participation in the genetic counselling process.

Authors’ Affiliations

The Familial Cancer Centre, Peter McCallum Cancer Institute, Melbourne, Australia


© Buscombe; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.