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Possible benefit from online genetic testing for lung cancer
Date:6/30/2009

PHILADELPHIA - As scientists continue to decode the human genome and the information becomes publicly available, private companies that offer online genetic testing are multiplying. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health were concerned that perhaps these tests posed a risk.

They evaluated responses to an online test among smokers who did or did not have a common genetic variant associated with risk for lung cancer. The results, published in a recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, raise a new set of questions, but also allay some of the early concerns.

"Up until now we have had a clear model for genetic testing. You see a professional genetics counselor, undergo a battery of tests and that professional helps you interpret your results," said Saskia Sanderson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who completed the study while working at the Social and Behavioral Research Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the NIH.

"That model is coming under increasing pressure as more and more genetic information is generated, and as a greater number of genetic tests become available on the internet," said Sanderson. "What we found was encouraging in that people who got these online genetic results recalled them correctly, and no one regretted having taken the test; though it is important to remember that this was a small group of select smokers and that others may respond differently."

Patients at higher risk genetically displayed short-term signs of decreased confidence that quitting smoking could reduce their risk of lung cancer, but scientists did note that all of those who took the test chose to receive at least one of several offered known smoking cessation aids.

"Genetic information is complex, and there is a risk that providin
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Contact: Jeremy Moore
jeremy.moore@aacr.org
267-646-0557
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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