289 research outputs found

    Discussion of off-target and tentative genomic findings may sometimes be necessary to allow evaluation of their clinical significance

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    We discuss a case where clinical genomic investigation of muscle weakness unexpectedly found a genetic variant that might (or might not) predispose to kidney cancer. We argue that despite its off-target and uncertain nature, this variant should be discussed with the man who had the test, not because it is medical information, but because this discussion would allow the further clinical evaluation that might lead it to becoming so. We argue that while prominent ethical debates around genomics often take 'results' as a starting point and ask questions as to whether to look for and how to react to them, the construction of genomic results is fraught with ethical complexity, although often couched as a primarily technical problem. We highlight the need for greater focus on, and appreciation of, the ethical work undertaken daily by scientists and clinicians working in genomic medicine and discuss how public conversations around genomics need to adapt to prepare future patients for potentially uncertain and unexpected outcomes from clinical genomic tests

    Care of men with cancer-predisposing BRCA variants.

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    Men and women are equally likely to inherit or pass on a cancer-predisposing BRCA variant—family history of cancers needs to encompass both sides of the familyMen with cancer-predisposing BRCA variants have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and are advised to be breast awareMen with cancer-predisposing BRCA2 variants have an increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer (men with cancer-predisposing BRCA1 variants may also have an increased risk); it is not yet known whether prostate specific antigen screening reduces mortality in men with cancer-predisposing BRCA variantsThe European Association of Urology recommends that PSA screening is offered to men with cancer-predisposing BRCA2 variants from 40 years of age after discussion of the risks and benefitsAround one in 260 men (~0.4%) inherits a cancer-predisposing BRCA variant that increases their risk of developing prostate, pancreatic, and breast cancer and may affect the health of their family.12 Most of these men are currently unaware that they have a cancer-predisposing BRCA variant, but as genetic testing becomes more common, more men will need medical advice about what having such a variant means for them and their families.Men are just as likely as women to have a cancer-predisposing BRCA variant, but many people perceive these variants as only being relevant to women. Paradoxically, this could lead to women at very high risk of breast and ovarian cancer missing out on screening and risk-lowering treatment despite a concerning paternal family history. Clinicians might also be less attuned to paternal family history of cancer in assessing women’s breast cancer risk.3 This practice pointer covers what cancer-predisposing BRCA variants are, who might be tested; and what health issues men and their clinicians need to know about. We refer to men but this article may also apply to some transgender and non-binary people: their risk profiles and recommended care should be appropriately individualised

    Recontacting in clinical practice: an investigation of the views of healthcare professionals and clinical scientists in the United Kingdom

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    This article explores the views and experiences of healthcare professionals and clinical scientists in genetics about the existence of a duty and/or responsibility to recontact former patients when the genetic information relevant to their health, or that of family members, changes in a potentially important manner. It is based on N=30 semi-structured interviews guided by vignettes of recontacting scenarios. The sample included healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom from different medical specialties (clinical genetics, other ‘mainstream’ specialties now offering genetic testing), and scientists from regional genetics laboratories. While viewing recontacting as desirable under certain circumstances, most respondents expressed concerns about its feasibility within the current constraints of the National Health Service (NHS). The main barriers identified were insufficient resources (time, staff, and suitable IT infrastructures) and lack of clarity about role boundaries and responsibilities. All of these are further complicated by genetic testing being increasingly offered by mainstream specialties. Reaching a consensus about roles and responsibilities of clinical specialties with regard to recontacting former patients in the light of evolving genetic information, and about what resources and infrastructures would be needed, was generally seen as a pre-requisite to developing guidelines about recontact

    Genomic variant sharing: a position statement.

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    Sharing de-identified genetic variant data is essential for the practice of genomic medicine and is demonstrably beneficial to patients. Robust genetic diagnoses that inform medical management cannot be made accurately without reference to genetic test results from other patients, as well as population controls. Errors in this process can result in delayed, missed or erroneous diagnoses, leading to inappropriate or missed medical interventions for the patient and their family. The benefits of sharing individual genetic variants, and the harms of not sharing them, are numerous and well-established. Databases and mechanisms already exist to facilitate deposition and sharing of pseudonomised genetic variants, but clarity and transparency around best practice is needed to encourage widespread use, prevent inconsistencies between different communities, maximise individual privacy and ensure public trust. We therefore recommend that widespread sharing of a small number of individual genetic variants associated with limited clinical information should become standard practice in genomic medicine. Information robustly linking genetic variants with specific conditions is fundamental biological knowledge, not personal information, and therefore should not require consent to share. For additional case-level detail about individual patients or more extensive genomic information, which is often essential for clinical interpretation, it may be more appropriate to use a controlled-access model for data sharing, with the ultimate aim of making as much information as open and de-identified as possible with appropriate consent

    Cognitive and affective outcomes of genetic counselling in the Netherlands at group and individual level:a personalized approach seems necessary

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    We performed a large outcome study at group and individual level in which the goals of genetic counselling were operationalized into cognitive and affective outcomes: empowerment, perceived personal control and anxiety. We then examined which socio-demographic and clinical variables were associated with changes in these outcomes. Data came from 1479 counselees who completed questionnaires (GCOS-18, PPC and STAI) at three time points: before the start of genetic counselling, after the first consultation and after the results of genetic counselling were disclosed. Results showed that at group level empowerment, perceived personal control and anxiety improved significantly after the whole genetic counselling process. Effect-sizes were medium for empowerment and small for the other outcomes. At individual level, 48% of counselees improved in empowerment, 21% in perceived personal control and 17% in anxiety. Around 10% of counselees worsened on all outcomes. Only 'reason for referral' and 'genetic test result' were significantly associated with changes in outcomes. This study demonstrated improvements among counselees in cognitive and affective outcomes after genetic counselling at group level. However, our results also suggest that there are opportunities for improvement at individual level, as many counselees remained stable and some even worsened on all outcomes. Routine outcome monitoring could help to explore the needs of counselees and could help to identify counselees who worsen.</p

    Managing expectations, rights, and duties in large-scale genomics initiatives: a European comparison

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    This article reports on the findings of an international workshop organised by the UK-France Genomics and Ethics Network (UK-FR GENE) in 2021. They focus specifically on how collection, storage and sharing of genomic data may pose challenges to established principles and values such as trust, confidentiality, and privacy in countries that have implemented, or are about to implement, large-scale national genomic initiatives. These challenges impact the relationships between patients/citizens and medicine/science, and on each party’s rights and duties towards each other. Our geographic scope of comparative analysis includes initiatives underway in England (Genomics England), France (Plan France Médecine Génomique) and Germany (German Human Genome-Phenome Archive). We discuss existing as well as future challenges raised by large-scale health data collection and management in each country. We conclude that the prospects of improving individualised patient healthcare as well as contributing to the scientific and research prosperity of any given nation engaged in health data collection, storage and processing are undeniable. However, we also attempt to demonstrate that biomedical data requires careful management, and transparent and accountable governance structures that are clearly communicated to patients/participants and citizens. Furthermore, when third parties partake as stakeholders, transparent consent protocols relative to data access and use come centre stage, and patient benefits must clearly outweigh commercial interests. Finally, any cross-border data transfer needs to be carefully managed to address incoherencies between regional, national, and supranational regulations and recommendations
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