Understanding of prostate cancer genetic tests misinterpreted by some men - Dr. David B. Samadi

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Understanding of prostate cancer genetic tests misinterpreted by some men

Dr. David Samadi gives his expert opinion regarding the understanding of men either affected with or who have a high-risk for prostate cancer and their interpretation of their personal genetic testing results.

A recent survey of men who were eligible for testing of their knowledge of cancer risk and genetics (KCRG) found that the understanding of their personal genetic test results are either lacking or being misinterpreted by some men who had taken the multigene testing for inherited prostate cancer.

“A very exciting and emerging field is genetic counseling for prostate cancer. But one potential problem with it is limited insights that take into consideration the needs of men who decide they want to look into genetic testing (GT),” said Dr. David Samadi. “We know men with a strong family history of prostate cancer would be one reason why some men may want to undergo genetic testing. But when we offer an important and valuable service such as this, we need to make sure that men completely understand their own personal genetic test results when the results come back.”

The study conducted at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, included 109 men who completed surveys before and after they underwent GT. The pre-GT survey included 15 items assessing the men’s KCRG and 6 other items assessing health literacy and numeracy. The post-GT survey included 9 items assessing each man’s understanding GT results. In addition, the researchers categorized personal and family history into 3 hereditary cancer syndromes (HCS) linked to prostate cancer.

Findings from the study showed that among the 109 men who completed both the pre- and post-surveys, factors significantly associated with higher pre-GT KCRG included meeting HCS criteria and higher numeracy. Concerning however to the researchers was the fact that of 101 men who responded definitively regarding understanding of their own personal GT results, 13 responded incorrectly on mutation status indicating significant disagreement with the actual results. Twelve men of these 13 men had 1 or more variants of uncertain significance but no mutations. It was also found that 6 men were not certain whether they carried a mutation when their GT results found a variant of uncertain significance but no mutations.

“The results from this small study is concerning given the fact that some of the men did not completely understand the results of the genetic testing,” exclaimed Dr. Samadi. “This particular study was the first one surveying men’s knowledge and understanding of genetics and their risk for prostate cancer. Understanding genetics can be a complicated topic for many people. We want to be careful that if and when a man does decide to be tested for the possibility of carrying a gene for prostate cancer, that we are not only providing accurate information to them but to not forget to assess their knowledge and understanding of it. We don’t want men to pass along misinformation to other healthcare providers or to their families. For instance, if a man believes incorrectly that he has a mutation when he really doesn’t this could lead to unnecessary screening and risk reduction interventions that could have been avoided if he thoroughly understood his own unique results.”

Dr. Samadi further explained by saying, “My philosophy when it comes to treating prostate cancer is that the care must be individualized and with new genetic testing diagnostic tools, I can gather much more information about a patient’s case each step of the way. When I have the most accurate tests available, this enhances my ability to better distinguish candidates for prostate cancer surgery versus watchful waiting or if the disease is more likely to recur. Genetic testing is really the wave of the future of how doctors will practice medicine and as long as men understand it, I’m looking forward to utilizing it more and more.”

Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact world-renowned prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist, Dr. David Samadi. For a consultation and to learn more about prostate cancer risk, call 820.947.2999.

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