The Aftermath of Gene Testing

The NYTimes article, “Finding Risks, Not Answers, in Gene Tests,” by Denise Grady and Andrew Pollack explores the aftermath and coping with the advanced gene testing that is highly sought after. The problem with the genetic tests is that they show whether a mutation is present in the gene, but it does not offer any details about its severity. For some, the information comes as a relief; however, that feeling vanishes if they learn they have mutations for genes they have never thought of. As a result, doctors are having trouble interpreting the multitude of data from these tests.

The confusing results are becoming more and more common. With in the next year, at least 100,000 people in the United States are expected to undergo these tests. The costs, about $1,500 to $4,000, are covered by some, but not all, insurers. The insurgence of gene testing worries some doctors because it may open up a can of worms, leaving patients more confused than relieved.

Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of clinical genetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York explains, some genes were included in these tests, “because they could be tested, not necessarily because they should be.” He continued, “testing companies are ‘rushing headlong into this era’ and that ‘individuals are getting results we’re not fully educated to counsel them on.”

This leaves the million dollar question, will you be getting tested? Thoughts?

Rabin Medical Center’s BRCA Multidisciplinary Clinic provides testing and treatment services as early detection and prevention measures. To learn more about the Clinic and to donate click here.

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