The Legacy Cancer Institute in Portland is warning people who’ve undergone genetic tests with 23andMe not to get a false sense of security about the absence of certain cancer genes.
For about $100, 23andMe will look at your genes and give you an idea about where your ancestors came from.
The company has a new test too, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that checks for three breast cancer gene variants.
Dr. Gina Westhoff with Legacy said while the test is accurate, she’s concerned the company doesn’t test for the thousands of other variants associated with other cancers.
“In the ideal world, patients are going to come into the health care system and see their health care provider and have a thorough family history performed," Westoff said. "And that family history is going to guide who then is going to get genetic testing. So my worry is that patients may be falsely reassured by this test and may not be as interested in their family histories.”
“'Direct-to-consumer’ genetics has arrived and will only continue to grow,” said Therese Tuohy a genetic counselor at Legacy Cancer Institute.
“We are working closely with our patients to help them understand what test is right for them, interpret results and counsel on what steps can be taken to reduce their risk.”
23andMe initially released a series of tests for several medical conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's and celiac disease, with the expectation that the scope would broaden, Tuohy added.
“The release of 23andMe’s latest test reflects the larger evolution currently taking place in the world of clinical genetics," Tuohy said.
A spokesman for 23andMe said the results the company sends to customers are designed to convey what a negative result would mean.