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  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: August 2009

Foreword by Helena Kennedy

Summary

I am very pleased to have been asked to write the Foreword to this important and timely book. As Chair of the Human Genetics Commission I am only too aware of the impact of familial breast cancer, or indeed many other familial cancers, on our work.

The issues raised by an increased understanding of the genetics of breast cancer have formed part of our thinking on how to deal with issues of privacy and confidentiality, such as the provision of genetic information to family members. Moving beyond the clinical, we have also considered some of the issues concerning patenting of gene sequences, taking as one example the continuing debate about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene patents. In addition, we have considered familial breast cancer as one of several conditions on the radar of insurance companies before underwriting life or health insurance.

I am therefore pleased to see that a fellow member of the Human Genetics Commission, Professor Patrick Morrison, and his colleagues have so carefully and clearly set out many of these important issues in this book. I hope that it will be widely read by clinicians and those responsible for policy in all of these areas and that they will take note of the important messages herein.