23andMe Gets FDA Clearance for Test that Detects Cancer Risk, But Is It Accurate?

Early diagnosis for cancer has been researched for decades, as the disease is complex and symptoms only show up when it is already developed. However, the 23andMe DNA service plans to change this by adding to their tests another one that will be able to detect Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Syndrome.

According to a press release on their blog, 23andMe has received clearance from FDA to offer this report to people that buy their kit. The CEO and co-founder of 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki, explained their goals:

We are committed to giving people affordable and direct access to important health information that can impact their lives.

Considering the test is looking into your genetic makeup, they can also learn how much you are predisposed to develop a type of cancer.

There are many tools in the medical field that can help detect cancer early and attack the disease from the early phases, but only if a person goes to regular screening.

The press release added that this report is not yet available, but when it is, it will be offered to the new Health + Ancestry Service customers and the ones that are on the most recent platforms. The report can be chosen by the customers and it will be found in the Genetic Health Risk report along BRCA1/BRCA2.

According to the blog post, 23andMe stated that “the MUTYH-Associated Polyposis Genetic Health Risk report adhered to the same standards used in our other reports, including greater than 99 percent accuracy and utilization of key informational concepts that achieved 90 percent or greater comprehension in a demographically diverse population.”

But is this test really accurate?

In an article posted by Kim Comando, we learn more about it. The tests are good to inform customers of their risk, but cannot know enough – even if one tests negative, they can still develop cancer because of their diet or lifestyle, and the same could happen with people that test positive for gene mutations. Moreover, only 5% of colorectal cancer cases are considered to be hereditary, with most of them being linked to the Lynch syndrome which cannot be detected yet by 23andMe’s test for colorectal cancer.

Bottom line: 23andMe is a great way to learn more about your body and health risks, but after getting the results, you should also visit a doctor and learn more about your health and how you can lessen the risks of developing cancer. Take those results with you and visit a doctor for more guidance.

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Jeff Wilkinson

About the Author: Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson  is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining  Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.

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