Population Based Testing for Primary Prevention: A Systematic Review
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The current clinical model for genetic-testing is based on clinical-criteria/family-history(FH) and a pre-defined mutation probability threshold. It requires people to develop cancer before identifying unaffected individuals in the family to target prevention. This process is inefficient, resource intense and misses >50% of individuals/mutation carriers at risk. Population genetic-testing can overcome these limitations. It is technically feasible to test populations on a large scale; genetic-testing costs are falling and the acceptability/awareness is rising. MEDLINE/EMBASE/Pubmed/CINAHL/PsychINFO databases were searched using a free-text and MeSH terms; reference lists of publications retrieved screened; additionally web-based platforms, Google, and clinical-trial registries were searched. Quality of studies were evaluated using appropriate check-lists. A number of studies have evaluated population-based BRCA-testing in the Jewish-population. This has been found to be acceptable, feasible, clinically-effective, safe, associated with high satisfaction rates and extremely cost-effective. Data support change in guidelines to population-based BRCA-testing in the Jewish-population. Population panel-testing for BRCA1/BRCA2/RAD51C/RAD51D/BRIP1/PALB2 gene mutations is the most cost-effective genetic-testing strategy in general-population women and can prevent thousands more breast/ovarian cancers than current clinical-criteria based approaches. A few ongoing studies are evaluating population-based genetic-testing for multiple cancer susceptibility genes in the general-population but more implementation studies are needed. A future population-testing programme could also target other chronic diseases.