Counsyl, a DNA testing and genetic counseling service committed to help patients understand how their DNA can inform critical health decisions, has announced it will expand into the oncology market. It plans to focus on advancing risk screening and help cancer prevention efforts with potential implications in breast cancer, which has a strong genetic component.
The announcement was made last month before Counsyl’s exhibition at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting June 3-7 in Chicago.
According to a news release, the company’s launch into the oncology market includes:
- An oncology-focused business unit, created with a dedicated sales force that will work with oncologists to help patients and their families understand their real risk of several inherited forms of cancer so they can make proactive decisions about preventive care and treatment;
- The enhancement of Counsyl’s Inherited Cancer Screen – The company expanded the test for up to 36 genes associated with an increased risk of more than 10 different cancer types, including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, colon, prostate, and melanoma. Tests include on-demand genetic counseling and are connected with most insurance providers so that patients can access them through their in-office physician. Results are typically available within two weeks;
- The pilot software tool “FirstCare” – a web and mobile-friendly app that will help physicians easily determine a patient’s eligibility for genetic screening, based on factors like family history. In a 2015 study titled “Characteristics associated with genetic counselling referral and BRCA1/2 testing among women in a large integrated health system,” 2,524 eligible women were interviewed with only 10 percent reporting undergoing BRCA genetic testing – and only 20 percent being referred for genetic counseling, indicating an underutilization of this type of testing and counseling service. Sutter Gould Medical Foundation is among the first organizations to use this tool in collaboration with physicians to advance testing rates.
“Patients complete a brief comprehensive electronic assessment, allowing for more efficient and effective identification of people at a high risk for hereditary cancer. They can then be appropriately counseled and tested. Patients who screen positive for hereditary cancer germline mutations can be more closely monitored, and receive therapeutic interventions designed to reduce their risk of developing cancer,” said Sutter Foundation’s chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Robert Altman, M.D.
“In the U.S., it’s estimated that almost 5 million people have a hereditary cancer mutation. In some cases, that means facing up to an 80 percent lifetime risk for cancer,” said Counsyl’s co-founder and CEO, Ramji Srinivasan.
“Inherited cancer remains a considerable, unknown risk for so many individuals and families who would benefit from this knowledge. Our goal is to help people understand their cancer risk by expanding access to genetic screening, providing on-demand genetic counseling, and creating tools, like FirstCare, that benefit both physicians and their patients,” Srinivasan said.