New research developments in the molecular genetics of cancer have led to the feasibility of cancer genetic testing. At present, genetic test results can better inform individuals at risk about appropriately tailored strategies for cancer screening and prevention. In the future, more persons will be eligible for genetic evaluation; in particular, if it is shown that patients with cancer who are carriers of germline mutations respond differently to treatments, genetic testing may be warranted. Consideration needs to be given to the appropriate delivery of genetic risk assessment and testing. There is a great potential for misinterpretation of gene test results and for adverse psychosocial consequences for patients. Genetic counseling is an important component in cancer risk assessment and management, particularly in helping persons at risk understand the implications of gene test results in the context of their experience with cancer and surveillance.
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