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Genetic counselors turn to unconventional counseling to meet demand for genetic testing
Date:3/16/2008

Imagine receiving genetic test results for a disease you could develop later in life without having anyone with whom to discuss your options for managing the risk. Thats becoming a common occurrence as people turn to the Internet and other outlets for genetic testing without genetic counseling. In an effort to broaden accessibility to genetic counseling, researchers are exploring non-conventional counseling methods that challenge traditional approaches.

The delivery of genetic test results for a disease like cancer can trigger a range of emotions and can be more distressful than anticipated-- particularly when theres been no counseling and the results are positive, explains Beth N. Peshkin, MS, CGC, senior genetics counselor at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center, and educational director of the Jess and Mildred Fisher Center for Familial Cancer Research. While in-person genetic counseling is ideal, its not convenient for people who live in rural areas or dont have access to an academic center.

According to Peshkin, genetic counseling and testing, particularly for adult onset conditions, is a trend that will continue to grow as additional genes are identified and as such testing diffuses into mainstream clinical care. Telephone counseling has been utilized with increased frequency despite a lack of data about its efficacy and concern about its use as a substitute for face-to-face contact with patients.

In anticipation of this increased demand, it is imperative we find alternatives to traditional genetic susceptibility counseling and that we develop and evaluate these possible options now, Peshkin explains. A successful alternative would be one that effectively delivers information but allows greater accessibility, such as telephone counseling.

To address these issues, Peshkin and her colleagues have launched a randomized clinical trial the largest to date at Lombardi to ev
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
414-312-7085
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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