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Warnings about direct to consumer genetic tests

We’ve all heard stories of people who have found family members they never knew existed thanks to direct to consumer genetic tests. The number of people who have used these genetic tests more than doubled during 2017 and now exceeds 12 million.

However, when consumers take the extra step of having their DNA analyzed for health reasons, say to test for certain gene mutations or illnesses using these companies instead of at a certified medical lab and without consulting an appropriate medical professional, the results are not always reliable. False-positives may cause undue stress and worry, and they’re not uncommon.

Dr. Gail Vance, member the College of American Pathologists’ Personalized Health Care Committee; Sutphin Professor of Cancer Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine, discusses the trend of direct-to-consumer tests, clarifies the role of the pathologist in interpreting those tests, and explains the importance of having a certified lab interpret results.

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