2009 February

Yay or Nay for Genetic Testing?

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted February 28, 2009 in DNA Testing

Today, CNN featured Dr. Robert Superko at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia who is recommending genetic testing to patients at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Superko:

If you have heart disease and you have one of these heart disease genes, then the likelihood that is contributing to your problem is very high. If [the testing] gives you a therapeutic direction, a diet or drug to take, then it becomes valuable.

But he is not making a rare endorsement of direct-to-consumer testing:

It is easy to get confused about test results, especially those received through the mail. You may not understand what they mean and you can get unduly concerned.

Basically, it’s yay for genetic testing if you go through your doctor and nay for genetic testing if  you don’t.

Although, his patient, Donna Mitchell, might not agree:

I think you need to take advantage of everything you can to prevent problems. [Genetic testing] was a no-brainer for me.

(1 comment)


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American Clinical Laboratory Association Tips for Consumers of Genetic Tests

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted February 25, 2009 in DNA Testing

Lab Results for Life

Thinking about purchasing a genetic test? The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) recommends that consumers ask the following six questions:

1. Is the test done in a medical lab certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)?

2. Is a genetic counselor, physician or other knowledgeable health professional available to assist you in selecting tests and interpreting results?

3. Do the claims seem hard to believe?

4. Are other products, such as nutritional supplements, being sold along with the test?

5. Are you willing to be “an informed” consumer — that is, take the time to understand what genetic testing tells you?

6. Does the provider of the service offer adequate assurances that your genetic information will be kept private and secure?

The ACLA’s educational campaign “Results for Life” also has an informative storyboard about genetic tests (pdf) and how personalized medicine can help with each stage of diagnosis and treatment to predict, screen, diagnose, select treatment, and manage the disease.

(>> Start a discussion!)


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