Bioethics News

When Gene Tests for Breast Cancer Reveal Grim Data but No Guidance

March 15, 2016

(New York Times) – Ms. Watts’s experience highlights an unsettling side to the growing use of genetics in medicine, particularly breast cancer care. Doctors have long been tantalized by a future in which powerful methods of genetic testing would allow treatments to be tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup. Today, in breast cancer treatment, testing of tumors and healthy cells to look for mutations has become standard. But as Ms. Watts found out, “our ability to sequence genes has gotten ahead of our ability to know what it means,” said Eric P. Winer, the director of the breast oncology program at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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