Genetic tests need genetic counselors

May 11, 2010 at 8:42 PM
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CHICAGO, May 11 (UPI) -- Personal genetic testing kits, which are available through retail pharmacies, still need a genetic counselor, a U.S. group of genetic counselors advises.

Getting genetic information from a manufacturer or supplier and without input from a healthcare provider can increase the risk of misunderstanding or misinterpretation, a statement from the National Society of Genetic Counselors said.

"Distributing genetic testing through pharmacies will expose more people to its availability," Elizabeth Kearney, president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, said in a statement.

"However, people should first meet with a genetic counselor to determine whether genetic testing is right for them and to prepare for what they might learn."

For example, there are many different types of genetic tests and it is important to get the right test for the medical concern. Some genetic tests provide more conclusive results than others and a genetic counselor can integrate the test results with medical and family history to provide more useful information, Kearney said.

In addition, consider the implications of knowing genetic findings and their impact medically, emotionally and life planning.

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