Health & Fitness

Taking the test to consumers

Consumers soon might hear more about genetic tests for breast cancer.

After quietly offering the test for a decade, the primary supplier of the service, Myriad Genetics, has launched a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign. The test still requires a doctor's order, but the campaign is intended to urge people to talk to their doctors about their risk, the company said. Another company, DNA Direct, has been offering the test directly to consumers for several years, via a Web site.

The test isn't meant for the general population, only for families who have reason to suspect they are at high risk. It's also expensive and usually only covered by insurance if there is a family history of cancer.

Some worry that consumers ordering the test online or asking their doctors for a lab order will bypass a discussion with a doctor or genetic counselor.