Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Knowledge of genetic cancer risks often dies with patients

28.10.2010
If you were dying from cancer, would you consider genetic testing? A recent study conducted by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center showed that most terminally ill cancer patients who were eligible for genetic testing never received it despite that it could potentially save a relative's life.

The research, "Exploring Hereditary Cancer Among Dying Cancer Patients—A Cross-Sectional Study of Hereditary Risk and Perceived Awareness of DNA Testing and Banking," was recently published in the Journal of Genetic Counseling, and is the first to document the prevalence of hereditary cancer risk and the need for genetic services and patient education among terminally ill cancer patients.

The study was conducted by VCU Massey researchers John M. Quillin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics in the VCU School of Medicine; Thomas J. Smith, M.D., professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the VCU School of Medicine; Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., professor in the Departments of Human and Molecular Genetics, Pediatrics, Obstetrics-Gynecology, and Epidemiology and Community Health in the in the VCU School of Medicine; and Laura Siminoff, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the VCU School of Medicine.

Investigators interviewed 43 dying cancer patients, nine of whom had a strong genetic risk. Significant findings included:

Twenty-one percent of dying cancer patients qualify for genetic assessment

None of the patients had genetic testing, even though their clinical conditions warranted it

Patients have a limited understanding of genetic services

Hereditary cancer is not being fully identified or tested at the time of diagnosis

"About 10 percent of patients are literally taking their DNA clues to cancer with them to the grave," said Smith, oncology and palliative care specialist at VCU Massey Cancer Center and co-lead researcher. In general, about 5 to 10 percent of cancers have a strong hereditary component.

Current genetic tests for at-risk relatives often fail to identify certain genetic markers for cancer, and clinicians are increasingly recognizing the value of beginning genetic assessment with a person who has cancer. Because the implications of genetics extend beyond the patients to their family members, this research proposes a new way of thinking about patient care that includes the larger reach of hereditary risk.

"Our findings suggest opportunities for identifying hereditary cancer are being lost, even as the window for identifying familial risk is closing," says Quillin, genetic counselor at VCU Massey Cancer Center and co-lead researcher. "By recognizing signs of hereditary cancer among dying patients, physicians can nurture patients' legacies while they nurture their lives."

Just as VCU Massey Cancer Center practices a multidisciplinary approach to treating and fighting cancer, interdepartmental collaboration was critical in this study. Researchers are now further exploring knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of palliative care oncologists with respect to genetic testing.

"Genetic testing should be completed early, shortly after diagnosis. Patients should ask their doctors if there is a genetic part to their disease, and test for it sooner rather than later," Smith says.

About VCU Massey Cancer Center

VCU Massey Cancer Center is one of only 66 National Cancer Institute-designated institutions in the country that leads and shapes America's cancer research efforts. Working with all kinds of cancers, the Center conducts basic, translational and clinical cancer research, provides state-of-the-art treatments and clinical trials, and promotes cancer prevention and education. Since 1974, Massey has served as an internationally recognized center of excellence. It offers a wide range of clinical trials throughout Virginia, oftentimes the most trials in the state, and serves patients in Richmond and in four satellite locations. Its 1,000 researchers, clinicians and staff members are dedicated to improving the quality of human life by developing and delivering effective means to prevent, control and ultimately to cure cancer. Visit Massey online at www.massey.vcu.edu or call 877-4-MASSEY for more information.

John Wallace | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vcu.edu
http://www.massey.vcu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>