Genetic testing has no place as a routine diagnostic test in sporadic and familial cases of Alzheimer's disease

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Dec;52(12):2110-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2004.52573.x.


The challenges inherent in diagnosing and treating patients with Alzheimer's disease are increasing. Early diagnosis and modification of risk factors have received growing attention from the media in recent years. As a result, the general public, and patients and family members, are increasingly better informed about the disease, its genetic background, and the possibilities for treatment. The physician is often faced with questions about hereditary patterns within the family and with requests to perform genetic testing. Children, with increasing frequency, ask for a separate appointment with the treating physician, during the patient's life or after the patient has died, to discuss whether they are likely to get the disease and whether genetic tests should be performed. In this paper, some of the clinical and ethical questions that physicians face are explored. Arguments as to why we think routine genetic assessment should not be part of the diagnostic examination of the patient suspected of Alzheimer's disease are given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Decision Making*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans