Personalized Medicine Is Waiting on the Shelf

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While there’s a tendency to paint the future of personalized medicine as sunny, there are a number of issues persistently clouding the horizon. Bob Langreth and I examine one of these concerns in a story you can read at Bloomberg entitled, “Life-Saving DNA Test Overlooked in Rise of Colon Cancer.” Provider education has long stood in the way of patient access to genetic tests for Lynch syndrome, an inherited cause of high cancer risk. While the testing has been available for more than 10 years, enjoys recommendations from clinical and public health groups, and has been shown to save lives in studies, many providers remain unaware of its availability and power. The test costs as little as $300 in families where the mutation has already been identified. People who test positive can take preventive action with frequent monitoring, perhaps having vulnerable tissue removed.  Yet in too many cases it remains on the shelf.

How are we going to get the benefit of full genomes when simple, straightforward tests like this go unused?

John Lauerman will be participating in the panel discussion, “Impact of Genome Sequencing and Health,” at Harvard’s 8th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference, November 28-29, 2012, in Boston, Massachusetts.

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