Direct-to-Consumer Cancer Risk Tests Prompt Few Changes in Exercise, Diet, Cancer Screening

Researchers examined the habits of individuals deemed as having elevated cancer risk by personal genomic tests.
Researchers examined the habits of individuals deemed as having elevated cancer risk by personal genomic tests.

Elevated cancer-risk findings from direct-to-consumer personal genomic tests (PGT) rarely prompt changes in exercise or diet, cancer screening, or advanced care planning, according to findings from the Impact of Personal Genomics Study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Most consumers “did not alter their health-related behaviors in the wake of PGT cancer results, with one exception: men who received elevated PGT prostate cancer risk estimates were significantly more likely to change their vitamin or supplement use than men who received average or reduced risk estimates,” the study authors reported.

Prompted by concerns that have been raised about PGT cancer tests leading to the overuse of health care resources, the research team conducted longitudinal surveys with 1042 consumers using the 23andMe and pathway Genomics PGT products.

None of the study participants received positive test results for pathogenic mutations in high-penetrant cancer susceptibility genes, the authors noted. Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based elevated cancer risk estimates were reported for consumers for colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer risk (24%, 24%, and 12% of PGT customers, respectively).

At a follow-up of 6 months, customers with elevated risk estimates were no more likely than others to have changed diet or exercise, or to have sought cancer screening.

“Men who received elevated PGT prostate cancer risk estimates changed their vitamin and supplement use more than those at average or reduced risk (22% vs. 7.6%; odds ratio 3.41; 95% CI: 1.44-8.18).

Reference

1. Gray SW, Gollust SE, Carere DA, et al. Personal genomic testing for cancer risk: results from the impact of personal genomics study. J Clin Oncol. December 12, 2016. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.67.1503. [Epub ahead of print.]

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