Analysis of 14 individuals who requested predictive genetic testing for hereditary neuromuscular diseases

Kunihiro Yoshida, Mariko Tamai, Takeo Kubota, Hiroshi Kawame, Naoji Amano, Shu ichi Ikeda, Yoshimitsu Fukushima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Predictive genetic testing for hereditary neuromuscular diseases is a delicate issue for individuals at risk and their families, as well as for medical staff because these diseases are often late-onset and intractable. Therefore careful pre-and post-test genetic counseling and psychosocial support should be provided along with such genetic testing. The Division of Clinical and Molecular Genetics was established at our hospital in May 1996 to provide skilled professional genetic counseling. Since its establishment, 14 individuals have visited our clinic to request predictive genetic testing for hereditary neuromuscular diseases (4 for myotonic dystrophy, 6 for spinocerebellar ataxia, 3 for Huntington's disease, and 1 for Alzheimer's disease). The main reasons for considering testing were to remove uncertainty about the genetic status and to plan for the future. Nine of 14 individuals requested testing for making decisions about a forthcoming marriage or pregnancy (family planning). Other reasons raised by the individuals included career or financial planning, planning for their own health care, and knowing the risk for their children. At the first genetic counseling session, all of the individuals expressed hopes of not being a gene carrier and of escaping from fear of disease, and seemed not to be mentally well prepared for an increased-risk result. To date, 7 of the 14 individuals have received genetic testing and only one, who underwent predictive genetic testing for spinocerebellar ataxia, was given an increased-risk result. The seven individuals including the one with an increased-risk result, have coped well with their new knowledge about their genetic status after the testing results were disclosed. None of them has expressed regret. In pre-test genetic counseling sessions, we consider it quite important not only to determine the psychological status of the individual, but also to make the individual try to anticipate the changes in his/her life upon receiving an increased-risk or a decreased-risk result. Sufficient time should be taken to build a good relationship between the individual and his/her family and the medical staff during pre-test counseling sessions. This will help the individuals feel satisfied with their own decisions for the future, whether they receive genetic testing or not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-117
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Neurology
Volume42
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anticipatory guidance
  • Ethical
  • Genetic counseling
  • Hereditary neuromuscular disease
  • Legal and social issues
  • Predictive genetic testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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