Analyzing family health history ‘best way for disease risk assessment’

November 6th, 2010 - 2:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 06 (ANI): Family health history assessment is an inexpensive, simple, and useful tool that has been shown to be effective and accurate when implemented in clinical care settings to assess personal disease risks, experts have said.

In an annual meeting scientists and clinicians in the human genetics will show the use of family health history information in clinical settings to assess an individual’s risk for developing common chronic diseases.

Integrating the use of family health history information in clinical practice can help practitioners determine which patients are at high risk of developing a specific health condition and would benefit from taking precautionary measures to prevent disease (such as early and frequent screening, genetic testing, health behavior and lifestyle changes, etc.).

Family health history charts - known as pedigrees - are also important tools often used in genetic evaluation. While specific personal genetic screening tests may be useful in some situations, research on family history data shows that family health history information may be a more useful initial disease risk assessment tool.

A group of researchers led by Charis Eng, Chair and Founding Director of the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) of the Cleveland Clinic, and Founding Director and Attending Clinical Cancer Geneticist of GMI’s Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, investigated the concordance and relevance between family health history-based risk assessment (FHRA) and SNP-based risk assessment through a DTC personal genomic screening (PGS) test.

The researchers found that although both FHRA and PGS placed an average of 40 pc in the same risk categories, there was little concordance between the two for breast, prostate, or colon cancer risks.

“Our research findings indicate that family health history assessment is currently a better predictor of cancer risk when compared with personal genomic testing methods,” said Eng.

“However, the personal genomic screening tests could potentially become more effective and accurate if combined with family health history information and used as a complementary tool for cancer risk assessment.”

“Evaluation of family health history still remains to be the gold standard in personal disease risk assessment,” said Eng.

Scientists will present their latest research findings at the American Society of Human Genetics 60th Annual Meeting.(ANI)

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