Study Underscores Harm From Unregulated Marketing of Genetic Tests

The study, conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that the benefits of these personalized cancer products are reported much more frequently than are the limitations.

Websites that market personalized cancer care services often overemphasize their purported benefits and downplay their limitations, and many sites offer genetic tests whose value for guiding cancer treatment has not been shown to be clinically useful, according to a new study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Internet marketing of cancer-related gene tests is unregulated. Therefore, there is wide variation in how these services are presented—posing a challenge for consumers and their physicians, the researchers reported in the March 5, 2015 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“We wanted to see if consumers are getting a balanced picture of benefits and limitations of these services,” said Stacy Gray, MD, AM, first author of the report analyzing 55 websites marketing the services. “We found a lot of variation. Some of the information is good, but all of it needs to be looked at critically by consumers and health care providers.”

Read the complete news release by the Dana-Farber Cancer Insitute: