March 3, 2017 – Genetic Testing


Anchor lead: Why aren’t more people who are candidates for genetic testing for cancer getting tested? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Genetic testing can inform a wide range of decisions relative to cancer: one’s own individual risk, the likelihood that certain treatments will succeed, how well things are going, but a new study reports that many people either don’t have testing or the counseling that goes with it. Kala Visvanathan, a cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Visvanathan: For the people at very high risk it’s happening, probably reasonably well, but there’s a large number of patients who are not getting tested even though they want to get tested, and there’s also a large number of patients not getting genetic counseling, which is important to explain and interpret the testing. This testing is available, insurance often covers this testing. Particularly BRCA1 and 2 testing has now been available for 20 years. We really should, as a country, be thinking about how we would make sure that everyone who’s appropriate to have testing is.   :33

Visvanathan encourages everyone to ask their doctor about eligibility. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.