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October 2, 1996

Benefit Is Bottom Line in Genetic Testing

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(13):1016. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540130014005

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AMID THE HOOPLA in the popular press about the imminence of widespread genetic testing, an important fact is consistently overlooked: Even the most likely candidates for such testing often don't want to be tested.

That's an important point to bear in mind as medicine enters the era of so-called new genetics, one in which physicians will be able to test healthy persons for risk factors for common diseases, noted David W. Yandell, ScD, director of the Vermont Comprehensive Cancer Center in Burlington and founder of the center's Familial Cancer Program. "This is really pushing the envelope in terms of what we can do with technology vs what is best for patients and their families." Even as researchers continue to identify genetic components and predictive risk factors for common disorders such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer disease, consensus on what to do with genetic testing results is lacking.