Outcomes from Mandatory Genetic Testing and Counseling Programs

Family history is at the core of precision medicine, Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, CGC, 2015 president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, said during her presentation at The American Journal of Managed Care’s 4th Annual Patient-Centered Oncology Care Meeting. During her presentation, Haidle explained that while hereditary cancer was traditionally viewed as occurring between 5% and 10% of the cancer population, recent data suggest that number may be a lot closer to 25% today.


Family history is at the core of precision medicine, Joy Larsen Haidle, MS, CGC, 2015 president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, said during her presentation at The American Journal of Managed Care’s 4th Annual Patient-Centered Oncology Care Meeting. During her presentation, Haidle explained that while hereditary cancer was traditionally viewed as occurring between 5% and 10% of the cancer population, recent data suggest that number may be a lot closer to 25% today.

Haidle explained that identifying patients earlier could lead to heightened surveillance, risk-reducing surgeries, and behavior modifications, allowing family members to know earlier if they may be at risk. As important as early detection may be, family history isn’t always at the top of the to-do list for practitioners who may be tasked with a handful items in a short appointment time. As a result, family history is generally either not collected at all or is done so very minimally.

“The world of genetic testing is under a rapid, rapid change, especially in the last 18 months to 2 years. And it’s important that the clinical expertise keep pace with the technology,” Haidle explained. “There are 10 new tests that are hitting the market on a daily basis. That’s a lot for the average practitioner to try to keep on top of and to sort through. In addition to the increased volume, the kind of information, the complexity of that information, has dramatically changed as well.”

Access to genetic testing has increased with the help of this technology. Though traditional face-to-face interactions still exist, telephone and telegenetic services have allowed greater access to rural and underserved areas. And with the addition of genetic counseling as part of the testing services, Haidle added that studies have shown the combination to decrease costs. Genetic counseling has not only decreased costs by reducing the number of inappropriate tests, but genetic counselors have also helped by identifying risk factors that may have been missed by the family practitioner.

“I also want to highlight the value of the counseling skills that come to that interaction because that support, and being able to understand how to use that information, the medical care becomes extremely important,” Haidle said. 

 
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