Genetics & Genomics

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Helping Patients Make Informed Choices

direct-to-consumer genetic testing, genetic counseling, psychosocial distress
CJON 2018, 22(1), 33-36. DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.33-36

Using direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTCGT), individuals can order a genetic test, collect and submit a saliva sample, and obtain results about their genetic risk for a variety of traits and health conditions without involving a healthcare provider. Potential benefits of DTCGT include personal control over genetic information and health management decisions, whereas potential risks include misinterpretation of results, psychosocial distress, and lack of informed consent. Oncology nurses can provide education, support, and advocacy to enable patients to truly understand the positives and negatives associated with DTCGT.


  • DTCGT is readily available and can provide limited information about risks for developing various common diseases and traits, as well as ancestry information.
  • Such testing is typically completed without counseling and guidance from a knowledgeable genetics professional.
  • DTCGT often does not involve comprehensive sequencing of multiple genes associated with risk for developing malignancy, and it accounts for a small percentage of genetic changes associated with an increased risk for developing malignancy or other diseases.
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