Joy Larsen Haidle on How the Genetic Testing Landscape Has Changed

After the Supreme Court struck down gene patents, not only is more genetic testing is being offered, but the technology of the test has expanded to the benefit of patients, said Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, CGC, president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
Published Online: November 18, 2015


After the Supreme Court struck down gene patents, not only is more genetic testing is being offered, but the technology of the test has expanded to the benefit of patients, said Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, CGC, president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

Transcript (slightly modified)
Since the Supreme Court ruling opened up competition in the BRCA testing market, how has the landscape improved for patients?
I think that testing has improved quite a bit. There are several laboratories now that offer genetic testing for both BRCA1 and BRCA2, but it's also allowed the technology to expand so that the other breast cancer genes that are also relatively common and impact patient care can now be tested on the same panel. So the cost of testing for that panel is roughly equivalent to what it had been to test just BRCA1 and BRCA2 alone.

Where are some areas that still need improvement in the testing landscape?
Areas that would benefit from improvement are, of course, that most of the additional breast cancer genes that have been identified, the bulk of that data is in families that have had either breast cancer only, or breast-ovarian families, or they are ovarian cancer only families. So for those cancer genes, that's the bulk of the information that we have about them, but it's limited information about what other kinds of cancers might be associated with those genes as well.

As more people are getting tested now using the panels and we're learning more about the frequency of those genes and the kinds of cancers that have been seen in those families, it will be a pretty rapid expansion in the kind of information and data that we have so we can start to look at improving care for the other kinds of cancers as well.

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