Medullary thyroid cancer is a disease with an established genetic inheritance pattern for which evidence- based guidelines recommend genetic testing and subsequent management of affected patients and their family members. The perceived stigma of genetic testing, coupled with issues involving confidentiality and disclosure, create potential conflict and confusion. In some cases, there is a need for genetic testing and prophylactic surgery in children, augmenting the need for a judicious approach that balances respect for individual autonomy and parental rights with the best interest of the child. We provide an overview of the ethical issues facing surgeons caring for patients with familial medullary thyroid carcinoma, and recommend interventions and resources to assist in decision making in these difficult situations.
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