Genetic testing for lung cancer risk: if physicians can do it, should they?

J Gen Intern Med. 2002 Dec;17(12):946-51. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.2002.20378.x.


Advances in genetics have increased our ability to assess an individual's genetic risk for disease. There is a hypothesis that genetic test results will motivate high-risk individuals to reduce harmful exposures, to increase their surveillance for disease, or to seek preventive treatments. However, genetic testing for genes associated with an increased risk of lung cancer would not change physicians' recommendations regarding smoking cessation. Limited studies suggest that test results that demonstrate an increased risk of lung cancer do not improve smoking cessation success. These test results may even distort an individual's risk perceptions. Before recommending genetic testing to assess risk for disease, physicians need to consider whether knowledge about genetic susceptibility will alter patient management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Mass Screening
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking Prevention