Genetic testing of risks for disease is the latest trend in medicine. The technique offers hope for some, but also raises medical, ethical, psychological, and practical concerns for many, including whether genetic information is worth acquiring.

Doris Teichler Zallen, a professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech, is the author of a new book, To Test or Not to Test, a consumer guide for people thinking about genetic testing. Zallen will be featured on the radio show ‘With Good Reason,” which will air locally on WVTF on Wednesday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

In the book, Zallen arms readers with questions that she says should be considered before pursuing genetic screening:

  • Am I a higher risk for a disorder?
  • Can genetic testing give me useful information?
  • Is the timing right for testing?
  • Do the benefits of having the genetic information outweigh the problems that testing can bring?

To Test or Not to Test essentially provides a toolkit for the genetic decision-making process and offers examples that focus on genetic testing for four types of illnesses: breast and ovarian cancer; colon cancer; late-onset Alzheimer’s disease; and hereditary hemochromatosis. She shares interviews with genetic specialists, doctors, and researchers, as well as the personal stories of nearly 100 individuals who have faced genetic testing decisions.

Zallen has dedicated much of her career to educating both student and public audiences on the controversies that emerge from advances in science, medicine, and technology with the goal of providing individuals with the intellectual tools to confront these issues.

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