GENETIC TESTING for cancer susceptibility is moving from the research
laboratory to the clinical domain and may become a useful tool for public
health. However, clinicians and patients must balance potential gains in cancer
prevention and control with the risks of testing and screening.
Recent policy directives, which conflict with one another, reflect the
promise and the peril of this cancer genetics technology. In this article,
using breast cancer predisposition testing as an example, we describe 3 such
statements from organizations selected because they represent researchers,
oncologists, and consumers. Because practicing clinicians will encounter patients
who request testing, we conclude with suggestions to help clinicians understand
these conflicting positions and respond to patients.