Potential Risks of Genetic Testing in Ovarian Cancer

Peter Levonian, MS
Published: Saturday, Dec 15, 2018



Peter Levonian, MS, senior genetic counselor, Stanford Medicine, discusses the potential risks of genetic testing in ovarian cancer.

Although it is recommended that every patient with a diagnosis of epithelial, fallopian tube, or peritoneal ovarian cancer undergo genetic testing, some patients express concern over the potential risks of testing. There was a period of time where geneticists were concerned that learning about a genetic risk for future cancer might lead to increased anxiety; however, several social psychology studies have shown that this knowledge carries a very low risk and most patients do very well with the information.

It's important to remember that most patients who have a genetic risk for cancer already have a family history of cancer, Levonian says, and they’re aware that they may develop a cancer at some point in their lives. This risk information can better assist providers in guiding care. The knowledge that there are proactive measures that they can take to protect their health can bring a lot of comfort to patients.
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Peter Levonian, MS, senior genetic counselor, Stanford Medicine, discusses the potential risks of genetic testing in ovarian cancer.

Although it is recommended that every patient with a diagnosis of epithelial, fallopian tube, or peritoneal ovarian cancer undergo genetic testing, some patients express concern over the potential risks of testing. There was a period of time where geneticists were concerned that learning about a genetic risk for future cancer might lead to increased anxiety; however, several social psychology studies have shown that this knowledge carries a very low risk and most patients do very well with the information.

It's important to remember that most patients who have a genetic risk for cancer already have a family history of cancer, Levonian says, and they’re aware that they may develop a cancer at some point in their lives. This risk information can better assist providers in guiding care. The knowledge that there are proactive measures that they can take to protect their health can bring a lot of comfort to patients.

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