Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Knowledge of genetic cancer risks often dies with patients

Date:
October 27, 2010
Source:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Summary:
If you were dying from cancer, would you consider genetic testing? A recent study showed that most terminally ill cancer patients who were eligible for genetic testing never received it despite that it could potentially save a relative's life.

If you were dying from cancer, would you consider genetic testing? A recent study conducted by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center showed that most terminally ill cancer patients who were eligible for genetic testing never received it despite that it could potentially save a relative's life.

The research was recently published in the Journal of Genetic Counseling and is the first to document the prevalence of hereditary cancer risk and the need for genetic services and patient education among terminally ill cancer patients.

The study was conducted by VCU Massey researchers John M. Quillin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics in the VCU School of Medicine; Thomas J. Smith, M.D., professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the VCU School of Medicine; Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., professor in the Departments of Human and Molecular Genetics, Pediatrics, Obstetrics-Gynecology, and Epidemiology and Community Health in the in the VCU School of Medicine; and Laura Siminoff, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the VCU School of Medicine.

Investigators interviewed 43 dying cancer patients, nine of whom had a strong genetic risk. Significant findings included:

  • Twenty-one percent of dying cancer patients qualify for genetic assessment
  • None of the patients had genetic testing, even though their clinical conditions warranted it
  • Patients have a limited understanding of genetic services
  • Hereditary cancer is not being fully identified or tested at the time of diagnosis

"About 10 percent of patients are literally taking their DNA clues to cancer with them to the grave," said Smith, oncology and palliative care specialist at VCU Massey Cancer Center and co-lead researcher. In general, about 5 to 10 percent of cancers have a strong hereditary component.

Current genetic tests for at-risk relatives often fail to identify certain genetic markers for cancer, and clinicians are increasingly recognizing the value of beginning genetic assessment with a person who has cancer. Because the implications of genetics extend beyond the patients to their family members, this research proposes a new way of thinking about patient care that includes the larger reach of hereditary risk.

"Our findings suggest opportunities for identifying hereditary cancer are being lost, even as the window for identifying familial risk is closing," says Quillin, genetic counselor at VCU Massey Cancer Center and co-lead researcher. "By recognizing signs of hereditary cancer among dying patients, physicians can nurture patients' legacies while they nurture their lives."

Just as VCU Massey Cancer Center practices a multidisciplinary approach to treating and fighting cancer, interdepartmental collaboration was critical in this study. Researchers are now further exploring knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of palliative care oncologists with respect to genetic testing.

"Genetic testing should be completed early, shortly after diagnosis. Patients should ask their doctors if there is a genetic part to their disease, and test for it sooner rather than later," Smith says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Commonwealth University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John Martin Quillin, Joann N. Bodurtha, Laura A. Siminoff, Thomas J. Smith. Exploring Hereditary Cancer Among Dying Cancer Patients — A Cross-Sectional Study of Hereditary Risk and Perceived Awareness of DNA Testing and Banking. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 2010; 19 (5): 497 DOI: 10.1007/s10897-010-9308-y

Cite This Page:

Virginia Commonwealth University. "Knowledge of genetic cancer risks often dies with patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027111356.htm>.
Virginia Commonwealth University. (2010, October 27). Knowledge of genetic cancer risks often dies with patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027111356.htm
Virginia Commonwealth University. "Knowledge of genetic cancer risks often dies with patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027111356.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins