Genetic Risk Testing May Help With Melanoma Prevention

Positive genetic risk information about melanoma may help to prompt people to discuss melanoma risk with a wider variety of family members, according to a study published in JAMA that examined the effects of hypothetical genetic testing. Interestingly, even people who received negative genetic testing results were still affected by the results.

“This study found that genetic testing increased intended risk discussion with multiple family members, including parents, siblings, and children,” Gordon said. “In particular, receiving positive genetic risk information—meaning that the genetic testing showed that the individual was at increased risk for developing melanoma—would lead to a larger intended increase in family risk discussion than when receiving negative results.”

Results showed that melanoma risk discussions occurred more often on average, among women than men. However, the frequency of risk discussions did not vary by the number of first-degree relatives with melanoma or whether they had a sun-sensitive phenotype or not. People were more likely to indicate intent to have a discussion about risk if they received positive compared with negative feedback. Based on the results of this study, the researchers felt that genetic test findings may lead people to move beyond their typical communication patterns to discuss salient cancer risk information.

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