A new company, Color Genomics, is offering genetic testing for cancer risk for only $250. Until now these sort of tests were rarely insured, cost thousands of dollars, and were normally only available to those with money and breast and/or ovarian cancer in their immediate family. If their tests work, Color Genomics is cutting the insurance agencies out of the circle, making genetic testing available for many more women (in the developed world at least). Of course, genetic risk is complicated and even the presence of a risk gene doesn't necessarily mean one will get cancer. As they tests become more and more common, it will be important to educate the public about what cancer risk really means.
The company plans to charge $249 for an analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2, plus 17 other cancer-risk genes. That is one tenth the price of many tests now on the market. Testing of the BRCA genes has generally been limited by medical guidelines to women who already have cancer or those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers. Insurers generally have not paid for BRCA tests for other women, and some insurers are not paying at all for a newer type of screening known as a panel test that analyzes from 10 to 40 genes at once.