Genetic testing decoded: Discussing goals, limitations of direct-to-consumer tests
CHICAGO — In light of the explosive popularity of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and its impact on the conversations between physicians and their patients, Timothy B. Niewold, MD, director of the Colton Center for Autoimmunity at NYU Langone Health, sat down with Healio Rheumatology to discuss how rheumatologists can interpret these genetic reports and better manage the expectations of their patients.
“As most of you are aware, genetic testing has expanded greatly in scope and in the number of people who have done it in recent years,” Niewold told Healio Rheumatology. “There are not many [tests] related directly to rheumatic diseases, but there are some tests that are related to cancer risks and other things that may still come up in the context of a medical interview.”
“Some of the [genetic testing] companies are providing insight into immune-related conditions, such as celiac disease,” he said. “Many of our common complex rheumatic diseases, however, are not included in the testing because the genetics are still a little complicated and we cannot make meaningful predictions at this time. At this session [at the ACR/ARHP 2018 annual meeting], we discussed direct-to-consumer genetic testing from the context of the patient-physician interaction with an emphasis on common questions that might come up when your patient brings you their genetic report, such as ‘What does this mean?’ ‘What should I do about this?’ and ‘Is there anything I need to worry about?’”