Scientific and technologic advances are revolutionizing our approach to genetic cancer risk assessment, cancer screening and prevention, and targeted therapy, fulfilling the promise of personalized medicine. In this monograph, we review the evolution of scientific discovery in cancer genetics and genomics, and describe current approaches, benefits, and barriers to the translation of this information to the practice of preventive medicine. Summaries of known hereditary cancer syndromes and highly penetrant genes are provided and contrasted with recently discovered genomic variants associated with modest increases in cancer risk. We describe the scope of knowledge, tools, and expertise required for the translation of complex genetic and genomic test information into clinical practice. The challenges of genomic counseling include the need for genetics and genomics professional education and multidisciplinary team training, the need for evidence-based information regarding the clinical utility of testing for genomic variants, the potential dangers posed by premature marketing of first-generation genomic profiles, and the need for new clinical models to improve access to and responsible communication of complex disease risk information. We conclude that given the experiences and lessons learned in the genetics era, the multidisciplinary model of genetic cancer risk assessment and management will serve as a solid foundation to support the integration of personalized genomic information into the practice of cancer medicine.
Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society, Inc.