“Finding Risks, Not Answers, in Gene Tests,” By Denise Grady and Andrew Pollack. The New York Times.

Within the next year, at least 100,000 people in the U.S. are expected to have genetic tests. Building on the success of using genetic tests to uncover inherited risks of breast, ovarian and colon cancer,  companies have expanded the array of genetic tests they offer, in part because new technology has made it possible to sequence many genes for the same price as one or two. The costs, about $1,500 to $4,000, are covered by some, but not all, insurers.

Unfortunately, the ability to find mutations has outpaced the understanding of what they mean. Frightening or confusing results are becoming more common. Some genes were included “because they could be tested, not necessarily because they should be,” said Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of clinical genetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He said that the testing companies are “rushing headlong into this era,” and that “individuals are getting results we’re not fully educated to counsel them on.”

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