On occasions research will find something which could have an impact on your health or that of your family. This is most likely to happen when the research involves a study of your DNA- the body's genetic code. This may show you have an increased risk of cancer, for example. As half your DNA is passed on to your children this may affect their risk of cancer as well.


It is very difficult to know how to deal with this in the best way and no solution is perfect!




One compromise is to


  • tell you roughly how likely it is that the research will throw up something unexpected. If, for example, the research involves your normal DNA then incidental findings  (as they are called) are more likely to occur than in studies where DNA is not studied


  • inform you that if something is found your GP or hospital doctor will be told so that they can decide whether the risk is sufficient to warrent asking you to repeat the test (this will need to happen in any event as the test will need to be done in a hospital laboratory). Before this happens you may be offered expert genetic councilling so that you can understand the implications for your family.

What happens if the researcher finds out something which could affect my health or that of my family?

However, some biobanks will decide that they will not return findings to donors or the doctors looking after them as they take the view that the results are not sufficiently reliable to guide treatment and may cause unnecessary anxiety.