September 10, 1997

Genetic Testing and Informed Consent

Author Affiliations

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Vanderbilt Cancer Center Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1997;278(10):821. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550100047033

To the Editor.  —We read with concern and considerable dismay the short discussion about tissue storage and reuse within the review of genetic testing for susceptibility to cancer by Dr Geller and coworkers.1 What is presented is said to reflect "a number of consensus statements" agreeing that research should be done on banked tumor tissue without specific permission from the patient for the particular questions being asked.It is relevant to note that these "consensus statements" are largely the work of lawyers, bioethicists, and genetic counselors, "many of whom" are narrowly focused and without any direct experience in the science of cancer research. Completely lost within this rush to perceived social correctness is the devastating effect these restrictions would have on the emerging fields of cancer molecular epidemiology and somatic cell cancer genetics. One can only surmise that if these same committees had been charged with fixing a leaky faucet