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Underutilized Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is underused, even in families with a history of certain cancers, reports News@JAMA. A team of French researchers examined about 240,000 patient records from cancer centers in France. While the researchers found that BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene testing about tripled between 2003 and 2011, testing rates for other cancer-predisposing genes remained low. Testing for variants in the MMR gene, which may increase patients' risk of Lynch syndrome and, in turn, colorectal cancer, did increase by about 43 percent between 2003 and 2011, but Pascal Pujol from Montpellier University Hospital called the result "frankly disappointing," News@JAMA says.

"Given that [genetic] testing can provide many options to enable individuals to manage their cancer risk, it is vital to encourage awareness and acceptance among both the public and medical professionals," Pujol adds.

News@JAMA adds that the study looked solely at testing rates in France, but notes that Pujol says such trends are likely to be seen in other countries as well.