‘Everybody Has a Mutation or More’


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While genome sequencing is not currently recommended or widely used because of its high cost and paucity of meaningful, actionable results, some patients wouldn’t want it even if it were free and useful, ­Theodora Ross, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, told The ASCO Post. Part of the reason for that is worry about discrimination and insurance. “There are nondiscrimination clauses with respect to genetic information and health insurance, but not life insurance or long-term care insurance. There is a lot of fear around that,” Dr. Ross said.

That might change, she commented. “I think insurance companies are going to start realizing that everybody has a mutation or more, predisposing them to something else.  If somebody learns about their genetic inheritance, it could signal the insurance company that the patient takes care of him or herself. It could correlate with exercise or limited alcohol intake. Someday there may be discrimination against those who don’t care to learn about their genetic inheritance.”

She also predicted that with more companies entering the field of genetic testing, more genes being tested, and more information being reported, “there are going to be more mistakes. So even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is saying it is going to start regulating these laboratories for clinical outcomes, it is going to be a bit of a mess. We can’t assume that the genetic tests we are getting are accurate enough.” ■


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