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Invitae Announces New Education Program to Accelerate the Use of Family History and Increase Awareness of Genetic Testing

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new survey released today shows 73 percent of Americans are aware of genetic testing for hereditary cancers – a significant increase over just a few years ago. Previous research found that in 2010 less than half of the Americans surveyed said they were aware of genetic testing. Dubbed the “Angelina Jolie Effect,” the current data highlight the far-reaching impact of Angelina Jolie’s public discussion of genetic testing for hereditary cancer.

“Many think of genetic testing as a relatively new frontier in medicine, but these survey results show that Americans are now aware of its potential and see it as a useful tool for understanding their genetic risk of disease”

However, despite this heightened awareness of genetic testing, there remains confusion about how cancer is inherited, a lack of knowledge of family health history, and a strong desire for clinical guidance when pursuing genetic testing. Indeed, the vast majority of those surveyed (80%) said they would want their personal physician or a genetic counselor to provide access to genetic testing and advise on the results.

The Genetic Risk Awareness Study surveyed more than 1,000 Americans and was commissioned by Invitae, a genetic information company. In response to the findings, the company is launching a new program, Your Genes. Your Voice. Your Choice., to encourage people to talk to their clinicians about their risks for hereditary cancer.

“Many think of genetic testing as a relatively new frontier in medicine, but these survey results show that Americans are now aware of its potential and see it as a useful tool for understanding their genetic risk of disease,” said Ora Gordon, MD, MS, Director of the Hereditary Cancer Prevention Program at the Disney Family Cancer Center of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and Professor of Genetics at UCLA. “We all know the importance of understanding and documenting our family history of disease, but for many people it’s a challenge. Tracking your family history and talking with your clinician about whether genetic testing is appropriate for you are important steps in assessing your risk of hereditary cancer.”

Stories drive awareness, spark decisions

In 2013 and 2015, American actress Angelina Jolie publicly described her experience undergoing preventive surgeries for breast and ovarian cancer after learning about her genetic predisposition to these diseases. The Genetic Risk Awareness Study found that 76% of Americans surveyed were aware of her story. Yet just 32% of those surveyed said they were familiar with the BRCA genetic mutations that influenced her decisions. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are linked to a significantly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and the presence of those mutations may prompt patients to work with their clinicians to help manage their risk of developing diseases.

Invitae is encouraging people to share stories on Facebook, describing the...


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