Ellen Matloff Discusses Genetic Testing and Counseling in Cancer Care

Ellen T. Matloff, MS, CGC, discusses genetic testing, counseling, and the implications of the US Supreme Court decision to ban the patenting of genes.

Ellen T. Matloff, MS, CGC, director of the Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Yale School of Medicine/ Yale Cancer Center, in New Haven, Connecticut, discusses genetic testing, counseling, and the implications of the US Supreme Court decision to ban the patenting of genes.

Researchers have come to understand that each patient’s cancer is unique. This realization allows physicians to target and treat each patient individually. This treatment approach represents the future of personalized oncology, Matloff believes.

Prior to the US Supreme Court ruling, one company held a monopoly on the BRCA1 and 2 genes. As a result, Matloff believes, the administrative staff was often responsible for conducting the genetic counseling involved with this procedure, which is not ideal. Adding further to this, now that patents are removed, several companies will approach physicians regarding testing.

Clinical Pearls

To address this, Matloff advises physicians not to get in over their heads. She adds that if expertise or time is lacking, physicians should refer patients to a certified provider.

  • Each tumor is unique, requiring the individualization of care through genetic testing
  • Now that gene patents are banned, several companies will begin to approach physicians regarding genetic testing
  • If expertise or time is lacking, physicians should refer patients to a certified provider for genetic testing/counseling