Chapter 29. Psycho-Oncologic Aspects of Hereditary Tumors and Predictive Testing

  1. Prof. Dr. Heike Allgayer PhD2,
  2. Prof. Dr. Helga Rehder3 and
  3. Prof. Dr. Simone Fulda4
  1. Mechthild Neises

Published Online: 21 AUG 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9783527627523.ch29

Hereditary Tumors: From Genes to Clinical Consequences

Hereditary Tumors: From Genes to Clinical Consequences

How to Cite

Neises, M. (2008) Psycho-Oncologic Aspects of Hereditary Tumors and Predictive Testing, in Hereditary Tumors: From Genes to Clinical Consequences (eds H. Allgayer, H. Rehder and S. Fulda), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527627523.ch29

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Heidelberg and DKFZ (German Cancer Research Center) Heidelberg, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Chair of Experimental Surgery, Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1–3, 68167 Mannheim, Germany

  2. 3

    Medical University Vienna, Department of Medical Genetics, Währinger Strasse 10, 1090 Wien, Austria

  3. 4

    Ulm University Children's Hospital, Eythstrasse 24, 89075 Ulm, Germany

Author Information

  1. Medical School Hannover, Pychosomatic Gynecology, Clinic Psychosomatic and Psychotherapy, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 AUG 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 DEC 2008

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527320288

Online ISBN: 9783527627523



  • breast cancer;
  • counseling;
  • guidelines;
  • ovarian cancer;
  • predictive diagnostics;
  • psychosomatics


Genetic counseling is a highly specialized service in medical care. The service is expensive and its task is comprehensive, including the family perspective. It often starts a communication process which deals with human problems associated with the risk of occurrence of a genetic disorder in a family. For a breast cancer service, which is the most explored cancer, this process is an attempt to assist the counselee in understanding the medical facts, the mode of inheritance, the risk of getting breast and/or ovarian cancer (again), and the implications and consequences for daily life, the family, and partnership. This includes decision-making regarding surgical options and notification to offspring and family, along with a sense of isolation, which may lead to psychological and emotional distress.

Genetic analyzes in general and preventive options depend on the individual situation and can only be recommended in an interdisciplinary setting. Guidelines including standards for genetic analyzes and comprehensive counseling have been established aiming at the prevention of negative consequences for persons at risk. During the pretest-phase, counseling aims at supporting the process of decision-making, in individuals and their families. After disclosure of test results, psychosocial support aims to enhance adjustment and communication within families. A small subgroup at risk for increased psychosocial distress needs additional support, for example, psychotherapy.