In-home genetic tests represent risk -

In-home genetic tests represent risk -

There are 2 comments on the Newsday story from Oct 22, 2007, titled In-home genetic tests represent risk -. In it, Newsday reports that:

Residents of Long Island and elsewhere in the Northeast will soon see television ads recommending they "Be ready against cancer." One might assume these to be public service announcements calling for more ...

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Newsday.

Larry Geier MD

United States

#1 Oct 22, 2007
While I would completely agree that "home genetic testing" is fraught with problems for the anxious and untrained public at large, I think it is misleading to paint Myriad Genetic Labs with that same broad brush. Testing for the more common hereditary cancer syndromes can only be done through a physician such as an oncologist or surgeon, who presumably has counseled the patient about all of the issues mentioned above, including how the results will be handled. These are cancers (breast, ovary, colon, uterine) where highly effective options exist for preventing the cancer in high-risk individuals, unlike most other genetic disorders where there currently is no great advantage to identifying the patient at risk because no effective management options exist.
Also, I find it hard to believe that the author is still using the "big brother" scare tactics regarding insurance and employer discrimination that still keep too many patients from appropriately undergoing genetic testing for these potentially deadly cancer syndromes. In fact, in the 11 years since testing for BRCA mutations for breast and ovary cancer became available through Myriad, there have been virtually no documented cases of genetic discrimination in either the medical insurance or employment arenas, yet the fear that this occurs frequently remains pervasive among patients and their primary doctors.
Ultimately, the point of genetic testing for one of these cancer syndromes is to give a patient a glimpse into their destiny, BEFORE they actually have the cancer, to give them options that may lead to preventing the cancer completely. If doctors are not paying enough attention to this issue, for whatever reason, then it is completely reasonable for patients to be educated about the existence of these syndromes so that they can in turn inquire about them to their physician. In my opinion, the Myriad campaign is an informational one, and will help to accomplish the only end result that is truly desirable, ie, that more women (and men) at risk for these syndromes will be identified, counseled, and tested, and more cancers will ultimately be prevented.
educated reader

Elizabeth, NJ

#2 Oct 22, 2007
you should really learn your facts before you try to write a "news" article. your article had a lot of information that was clearly incorrect - had you done your research, you would know that genetic discrimination is illegal in most states and that the value of this test is that there is a separate set of medical management guidelines for those who do test positive - you never run a test for a disease that is untreatable or uncurable.

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