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Policy Perspectives
January 21, 1998

Genetic Testing for Cancer RiskHow to Reconcile the Conflicts

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics (Dr Kodish) and Center for Human Genetics (Dr Wiesner), Law-Medicine Center (Mr Mehlman), and Center for Biomedical Ethics (Drs Kodish and Murray), Case Western Reserve University Schools of Medicine and of Law, and University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio.

JAMA. 1998;279(3):179-181. doi:10.1001/jama.279.3.179

GENETIC TESTING for cancer susceptibility is moving from the research laboratory to the clinical domain and may become a useful tool for public health. However, clinicians and patients must balance potential gains in cancer prevention and control with the risks of testing and screening.

Recent policy directives, which conflict with one another, reflect the promise and the peril of this cancer genetics technology. In this article, using breast cancer predisposition testing as an example, we describe 3 such statements from organizations selected because they represent researchers, oncologists, and consumers. Because practicing clinicians will encounter patients who request testing, we conclude with suggestions to help clinicians understand these conflicting positions and respond to patients.

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