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Customer Response to Personal Genomic Testing for Cancer Risk

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Key Points

  • Most customers with an elevated personal genomic testing cancer risk based on single nucleotide polymorphisms did not change diet, exercise, advanced care planning, or screening behaviors.
  • Men with an increased prostate cancer risk were more likely to change vitamin/supplement use.

In a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Gray et al found that most people receiving cancer-related data through direct-to-consumer personal genomic testing tended not to change health or screening behaviors when an elevated risk was identified.

The study involved baseline and 6-month surveys of new customers of 23andMe (Mountain View, California) and Pathway Genomics (San Diego, California). A total of 1,042 people (71.2% response rate) completed both surveys, with 762 having complete cancer-related data. A desire to learn about cancer risk was cited as motivation for personal genomic testing by 88% of persons for colorectal cancer, 95% for prostate cancer, and 94% for breast cancer.

None of the customers had positive tests for pathogenic mutations in highly penetrant cancer susceptibility genes. Elevated single nucleotide polymorphism–based cancer risk estimates were received by 24% of persons for colorectal cancer, 24% for prostate cancer, and 12% for breast cancer.

At 6 months, customers with elevated personal genomic testing cancer risk estimates were not significantly more likely to change diet, exercise, or advanced planning behaviors or undergo cancer screening vs customers at an average or reduced risk. Men who received elevated prostate cancer risk estimates were more likely to change (increase or decrease) vitamin and supplement use vs those at an average or reduced risk (22% vs 7.6%; adjusted odds ratio = 3.41; 95% confidence interval = 1.44–8.18).

The investigators concluded: “Most adults receiving elevated direct-to-consumer [personal genomic testing] single nucleotide polymorphism-based cancer risk estimates did not significantly change their diet, exercise, advanced care planning, or cancer screening behaviors.”

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health National Human Genome Research Institute.

Stacy W. Gray, MD, of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, City of Hope National Medical Center, is the corresponding author of the Journal of Clinical Oncology article.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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