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Mail-Order Kits Expand Patient Access to Genetic Testing

Mail-order kits are now making genetic testing more accessible to patients who may need it the most.
BY Brielle Urciuoli
PUBLISHED September 26, 2017
According to National Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCN) guidelines, women with ovarian cancer and certain women with breast cancer should get genetic testing for genetic mutations that could increase cancer risk. However, barriers, such as a lack of nearby testing facilities, sometimes make the crucial procedure impossible for some families.

But now, genetic testing kits that can be mailed to the physician’s office are giving more people the opportunity to take what can be a life-saving test.

Instead of searching for a nearby genetic counselor, physicians can now order their patients a hereditary cancer test produced by the company Color. The process is simple: first, physicians order the test for the patients. Once it arrives at the office, the patient provides a saliva sample and creates an account on Color’s website, detailing their family history. The physician then mails the sample to Color, and in a few weeks, the physician and patient get the results. Doctors can choose if they want to see the results before the patients do, or have them sent to the patients at the same time. Then, Color offers genetic counseling for that patient.

One kit tests for common cancer-related genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which can increase the risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Color is currently running a special for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month (September and October, respectively). Their BRCA test is only $99 during the month of October.

“In the U.S, between 250,000 and 415,000 adult women have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and greater than 90 percent are unaware they have it. In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (September) and Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), Color has introduced a test that can help change that,” Lauren Ryan, head of Clinical Genetics at Color said in an interview with CURE.

“Color’s BRCA Test, the most affordable genetic test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 ever on the market, is now available to anyone who wants to take the first step toward learning her risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer,” she said.

The test kit typically retails for $149, which is still far below the average price of genetic testing, which could cost a patient hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. It should be noted, however, that many insurances will cover the cost of genetic testing if it is physician-recommended and the patient meets certain criteria.
“No woman should die of breast or ovarian cancer due to genetic mutations. The science is clear, yet for too long, awareness, cost, and access have been major obstacles to women getting tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 – the most common genetic mutations associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancers,” Ryan said.

Color also offers genetic tests that can help detect other 30 other cancer-related mutations, as well as a third test, which focuses on hereditary high cholesterol. All tests are easy to use and include complementary genetic counseling by a board-certified, licensed genetic counselor.

Currently, Color accepts health insurance for the 30-Gene Hereditary Cancer test for patients who meet the criteria, which mainly consider a person’s personal and family history of cancer.

“We believe everyone should be able to benefit from their own health information. This information can not only improve health outcomes, but could save their families, and our entire health care system, lots of money,” Ryan said. “Additionally, knowing one’s genetic risk early helps individuals create screening and prevention plans with their doctors using appropriate screening guidelines based on their personal and familial risk of cancer.”
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