Genetic Testing for Disease Susceptibility: Social, Ethical and Legal Issues for Family Physicians

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As genetic testing for disease susceptibility is incorporated into clinical practice, family physicians will increasingly provide initial genetic counseling and referrals for testing. Genetic testing for disease susceptibility is associated with numerous social, ethical and legal concerns that should be addressed during the counseling process. Informed consent requires discussion of the limitations of the available genetic tests and interventions, implications of test results for the patient and family members, and limits of confidentiality, and discrimination risks. Other issues include regulatory concerns in commercial testing and the existing legal protections against genetic discrimination.