Familial Cancer

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 447–457 | Cite as

Supporting disclosure of genetic information to family members: professional practice and timelines in cancer genetics

  • Benjamin Derbez
  • Antoine de Pauw
  • Dominique Stoppa-Lyonnet
  • Sandrine de MontgolfierEmail author
Original Article


Disclosure of genetic information within families is one of the longstanding questions under scrutiny in the field of genetics. Most of the probands entrusted with family disclosure succeed in this task, but there are still many problematic cases where it proves difficult. How can professionals help probands disclose this information? What levers can they activate to foster the diffusion of genetic information within families? In the context of a new legal framework concerning this question in France, this paper offers a comprehensive view of the process of genetic counselling in a cancer genetics department. Based on an ethnographic study, it focuses on the interactions between professionals and probands during each step of the testing procedures in order to identify key times when the issue can be addressed. The results show that the question of family disclosure needs to be addressed before, during and after the test. Greater awareness of this continuum among professionals could help them foster family disclosure by supporting the probands at each stage of the testing procedure


Family communication Genetic results Genetic counseling At-risk relatives Ethnographical study 



We thank all the members of the genetics department of the Institut Curie (Paris hospital) directed by Professor D. Stoppa-Lyonnet for letting us conduct this survey.


The authors thank the Cancéropole – Ile-de-France and INCa for funding the research project ‘Family disclosure in human genetics: implications and implementation of family disclosure in familial genetic disorders 2013–2016’ (Grant 2013−130).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Derbez
    • 1
  • Antoine de Pauw
    • 3
  • Dominique Stoppa-Lyonnet
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Sandrine de Montgolfier
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux Sociaux (IRIS)Paris Cedex 13France
  2. 2.Université Paris Est Créteil (UPEC)CréteilFrance
  3. 3.Service de Génétique Oncologique, Institut CurieParisFrance
  4. 4.INSERM U830ParisFrance
  5. 5.Université Paris DescartesParisFrance

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