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Testing Balance

About half the patients with inherited cancer risk may not be eligible for genetic testing under National Health Service criteria, Sky News reports.

Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research in London reviewed more than 150 patients who underwent private multi-gene cancer panel testing. They found, as they write in Scientific Reports, that 15 of those patients had pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in genes relevant to their own or their family history of cancer. They further examined whether these patients would have been eligible for testing under NHS guidelines, finding that seven of the 15 individuals with pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants did not.

"We feel there is a strong case to widen access to cancer gene testing on the NHS," senior author Ros Eeles from the ICR tells the Independent.

She adds, though, that there is "a trade-off to doing so." She and her colleagues note in their paper that individuals who did not meet the NHS criteria were more likely to have variants of uncertain significance. Those findings, she tells the Independent will "need follow-up and can worry patients unnecessarily."

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