Buddy Check 7: Genetic counselors discuss direct to consumer genetic test reliability

Published: Apr. 6, 2018 at 9:04 PM CDT
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At home genetic testing kits are enticing to people looking to know more about their family background, but when it comes to your health, specifically whether or not breast cancer may be in your genetics, some medical professionals warn, the direct to consumer options may not be best.

Genetic counselors at Marshield Clinic say they've seen more people asking about the reliability of direct to consumer genetic testing, and while the convenience and privacy factor might be enticing, they suggest leaving it to those who do more thorough analyzation.

"Accuracy varies by lab. The tests are different than what we would order here in the clinic," genetic counselor Katie Plamann said. "The tests that we order are clinic approved and these are more for recreation. They're not meant to be diagnostic. Because of that, there can be false positives, false negatives, and results that are interpreted incorrectly."

Genetic counselor Anna Cisler adds,"One clinical testing laboratory recently did a study looking at tests that were sent to them as a confirmation of a result that was given by a direct to consumer lab. They actually found that about 40% of those were incorrect, either in the interpretation or the presence or absence of that mutation."

Plamann says, if you have taken a direct to consumer genetic test and received results about the BRCA 1 or 2 genes, the clinic is always going to run their own genetic test before moving forward with any kind of medical treatment.