People under 40 could benefit from genetic testing for diseases

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Genetic testing has become an essential tool for disease prevention and treatment in modern medicine.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that screening for three genetic conditions would be cost-effective if it was implemented for all adults under 40.

What are the genetic conditions being screened for?

The study recommends routine genetic testing for three high-risk genetic conditions. These include:

  1. Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome: A genetic mutation that increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  2. Lynch syndrome: The most common cause of hereditary colorectal cancer.
  3. Familial hypercholesterolemia: A genetic condition that causes high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, leading to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke at a young age.

Why are these conditions important?

These conditions are highly prevalent, and early detection and treatment can save lives. However, genetic testing for any of these conditions is currently limited to patients with a high-risk family history.

What does the study recommend?

The study recommends routine genetic testing for all adults under 40 for these three high-risk genetic conditions. The study shows that the long-term benefits of this testing would outweigh the cost.

What is the cost of genetic testing?

The cost of genetic testing has fallen to around $250.

The study found that the high up-front investment in genetic testing would gradually be recouped with improved outcomes among people with genetic risks over their lifetimes.

Is genetic testing cost-effective?

The study defines interventions costing no more than $100,000-per-quality-adjusted life year (QALY) as cost-effective in the U.S. context.

Screening 30- and 40-year-olds would be cost-effective with a test costing $250, with a confirmation test costing another $250 for positive results.

However, screening 50-year-olds with a $250 test would not be cost-effective due to missed opportunities to prevent disease in older populations.

What are the benefits of genetic testing?

The study found that screening 100,000 30-year-olds would result in 101 fewer overall cancer cases and 15 fewer cardiovascular events across their lifetimes.

The study suggests that screening for these genetic conditions could result in significant improvements in quality of life and reduced healthcare costs in the long run.

What is the takeaway message?

The study recommends bundling genetic disorders into the same screening plan and testing individuals in advance while they are young adults and prior to any disease onset.

Genetic testing could become a historic step toward precision medicine and improve disease prevention and treatment.

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The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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