Journal of Palliative Medicine
Genetic Screening and DNA Banking at the End of Life #206
To cite this article:
John M. Quillin, Joann N. Bodurtha, Thomas J. Smith. Journal of Palliative Medicine. May 2011, 14(5): 656-657. doi:10.1089/jpm.2011.9695.
Published in Volume: 14 Issue 5: May 19, 2011
John M. Quillin, Ph.D.,
Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., and
Thomas J. Smith, M.D.
Address correspondence to:
John M. Quillin, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics
Massey Cancer Center
Virginia Commonwealth University
1101 E. Marshall Street
Richmond, VA 23298-0230
Many dying patients voice concern for the health of surviving family members.1,2 The most common causes of death can cluster in families, and this clustering can reflect shared family genes. About 5% to 10% of cancers are strongly hereditary3 and a family history of heart disease is well established as a risk factor for the disease.4–6 Family members may benefit from knowing their genetic risk, and offering testing can be a generative act for a dying patient. Today's genetic tests can identify known markers of disease for only some families, so testing is most helpful if it includes the affected patient (otherwise “negative” test results are less informative). In addition, more informative genetic tests will likely be available in the future. Once patients die, however, their DNA is no longer readily available for this future testing. On the other hand, decisions about genetic testing are complex and can have profound emotional, familial, and financial impacts on those affected and should not be pursued hastily.
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Genetic Screening and DNA Banking at the End of Life #206 - Journal of Palliative Medicine