Women's health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) increasingly face questions from patients interested in genetic testing to determine their risk for developing diseases such as breast and ovarian cancer. While it may appear simple to order commercially available genetic tests, WHNPs should first carefully consider the practice, administrative, legal and ethical issues involved in providing such services, asserts an article in JOGNN. WHNPs who offer cancer genetic testing, say the authors, must follow professional guidelines and should seek additional training -- and ideally credentialing -- in genetics. Cancer genetic testing is a complex process, which begins with accurate risk assessment, including a review of medical history, carcinogen exposure and a detailed family history. Testing should then only be ordered when the results are likely to provide information that can improve patient outcomes. Genetic testing competencies also include education and counseling of patients and sometimes their family members regarding testing results and implications; interpretation of results; and clinical management. Read the abstract.
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