June 27, 2017
Genetic testing has enormous potential for identifying patients at risk for specific cancers, but we must be honest about limitations.
In a series of presentations, experts agreed that the avenues for identifying those individuals most likely to benefit from surveillance and chemoprevention of colorectal cancer are multiplying.
However, presenter Matthew Yurgelun, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, expressed concern about how some of the commercially available multigene panels are being marketed and employed by both patients and physicians.
“Genetic testing often fails to give a black and white answer,” Dr. Yurgelun said. “Finding an inherited mutation in a cancer susceptibility gene carries plenty of uncertainty in many cases.” This has the potential to cause unrealistic expectations and the potential for misuse of the information, he cautioned.
“Clinicians should expect to still encounter lots of uncertainty with genetic testing, which is why it’s so critically important that such testing be done with the guidance of professional genetic counselors who can help navigate many of these uncertainties. While our technology now allows for a tremendous breadth of genetic testing options, these options have hugely expanded the number of questions and the amount of uncertainty that can be generated,” he added.
For more on this topic, read the comprehensive article in GI & Hepatology News on how genetic advances are pushing the personalization of cancer prevention .
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