JScreen, a national public health initiative based out of Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Human Genetics, has announced a new program that offers at-home testing for more than 60 cancer susceptibility genes associated with hereditary risks for breast, ovarian, prostate, colorectal, skin and many other cancers.
"Making cancer genetic testing accessible is key," said Jane Lowe Meisel, MD, associate professor of hematology and medical oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine, a breast oncologist at Winship Cancer of Emory University and medical director for JScreen's cancer program.
"This type of testing is important because it alerts people to their risks before they get cancer. They can then take action to help prevent cancer altogether or to detect it at an early, treatable stage."
Unlike direct-to-consumer companies, JScreen's cancer program offers highly accurate saliva testing that uses state-of-the-art genetic sequencing technology. The robust cancer testing panel includes genes that are actionable, meaning there is something that can be done to help prevent cancer if a person tests positive. Importantly, licensed genetic counselors provide information via phone or secure video conferencing to ensure that people understand their results.
Until now, JScreen's focus has been on reproductive carrier screening for diseases like cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy that a couple could unknowingly pass on to their children. JScreen has tested thousands from all 50 states, and has given high-risk couples essential information about their genetic risks and options to help them have healthy children.
With the accuracy and success of the reproductive carrier screening program, JScreen participants and others requested that the program also consider offering genetic testing to assess personal cancer risk. To meet this need, JScreen and Winship launched the Atlanta PEACH BRCA pilot study in July of 2019. The results of this study confirmed interest in at-home cancer genetic testing and helped inform best practices for the national launch of JScreen's cancer genetic screening initiative.
"Knowledge is power. With an understanding and awareness of their risks and available options, individuals can work with their health-care providers on next steps," said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, MS, CGC, assistant professor of human genetics at Emory University School of Medicine, and JScreen's Executive Director. "Launching our new cancer program and providing convenient and affordable access to cancer genetic testing will help save lives. We are thrilled to bring this important resource to the public."
- Catherine Morrow