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Cancer Health Center

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Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment and Counseling (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - The Option of Genetic Testing

Table 1. Clinical Utility of Genetic/Genomic Testsa continued...

A study of 1,087 users of Facebook, a social-networking Web site, who proactively registered with a marketing firm indicated that almost half of respondents were aware of personal genetic testing (PGT).[39] Fewer than 10% of respondents had used PGT for a variety of conditions, including, but not limited to, cancer; however, the majority indicated that they would consider using PGT (64%). The study also identified key areas in which individuals may benefit from additional education and information. For example, one-third of respondents mistakenly understood that the PGT results indicated a diagnosis of disease as opposed to risk of developing disease. In addition, respondents viewed physicians as an important resource in understanding and using PGT results to make health care decisions.

Another study examined how 145 Facebook users interpreted DTC information. Participants completed an online survey in which separate scenarios containing information derived from DTC Web sites about the risk of developing heart disease, colorectal cancer, or basal cell skin cancer were presented. The authors found that even in this highly educated cohort, of whom 56% were in the health care field, the reported ease of understanding the test results was not related to an accurate interpretation of the results.[40] Of those who answered that the results were easy or very easy to understand for each of the scenarios, correct interpretation varied greatly (59%-80%) across the four scenarios.

A study offered DTC genomic risk assessments at reduced cost to 3,640 highly educated (90% had some college or more), high-income (median, $100,000-$149,000 per year), predominantly white (80%) employees in the health care (the sponsoring institution), technology, and biotechnology fields.[41] Those who declined participation were more likely to be nonwhite. Among those who underwent DTC testing, about half (49.7%) expressed testing-related concerns; the most frequently cited concerns involved privacy issues. In multivariate analyses, female gender, employment in a health care field, younger age, higher education, and higher trait anxiety were significant predictors of expressing concerns about testing. The majority (82.4%) indicated that they would want to know their genetic risk of a nonpreventable disease. Women, whites, those who were younger, those who were in health-related occupations, and those who had higher trait anxiety expressed more uncertainty about whether they would want to know their genetic risk of a nonpreventable disease.

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