JUN 09, 2020 1:32 PM PDT

Genetic counseling for prostate cancer testing goes telehealth

Genetic testing for prostate cancer in men is not yet commonplace, despite the positive impact that it could have on decreasing the number of cancer deaths seen annually. That’s because genetic counseling and guidelines are inconsistent and medical professionals have yet to be able to establish standardized recommendations. Germline genetic testing works by detecting the presence of hereditary cancer genes such as BRCA2 and BRCA1. 

New research from the Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Consensus Conference 2019 reports on the Implementation of Germline Testing for Prostate Cancer, which intended to address these obstacles. The key findings were published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

From the conference arose the theme of the urgent need to develop a genetic implementation framework for prostate cancer testing. The consensus discussed topics such as the following: which genes should be tested, which men should undergo genetic testing for prostate cancer, how genetic results impact precision medicine and precision management across the stage spectrum, and the impact of genetic testing for cancer risk and screening for men and their families.

From these conversations, the consensus developed a set of recommendations, including promoting genetic testing of all men with metastatic prostate cancer (in order to inform precision medicine or clinical trial eligibility), promoting genetic testing of men with a family history suggesting hereditary prostate cancer as well as other cancers (breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and colon cancers),  and prioritizing BRCA2 and BRCA1 genes for genetic testing, in addition to DNA mismatch repair genes in metastatic prostate cancer.

Photo: Pixabay

The attendees of the conference also discussed how, in the time of COVID-19, genetic counseling need not be affected. As reported in Eureka Alert, “Genetic testing is very conducive to telehealth genetic counseling, with at-home sample collection for genetic testing, and discussion of results through telehealth.” 

Researchers urge men to take the time to pursue genetic testing for prostate cancer proactively, for their own sake and for the sake of scientific advancement.

Sources: Journal of Clinical Oncology, Eureka Alert

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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