Hereditary Cancer: Example of a Public Health Approach to Ensure Population Health Benefits of Genetic Medicine

Healthcare (Basel). 2016 Jan 8;4(1):6. doi: 10.3390/healthcare4010006.


This article introduces the identification, prevention, and treatment of hereditary cancer as an important public health concern. Hereditary cancer research and educational outreach activities are used to illustrate how public health functions can help to achieve health benefits of genetic and genomic medicine. First, we evaluate genetic service delivery through triangulating patient and provider survey results which reveal variability among providers in hereditary cancer knowledge and genetic service provision. Second, we describe efforts we have made to assure competency among healthcare providers and to inform, educate and empower patients with regard to the rapidly evolving field of genomics and hereditary cancer. Lastly, key policy-issues raised by our experiences are discussed in the context of how they may help us to more effectively translate future genomic technologies into practice in order to attain population health benefits from genetic and genomic medicine.

Keywords: genetic testing; genomics; hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome; public health.

Publication types

  • Review