Scientists Have Some Issues with the Cancer Testing Company Featured on KUWTK

Illustration for article titled Scientists Have Some Issues with the Cancer Testing Company Featured on KUWTK

During an episode in this season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kris Jenner made her daughters do a DNA-based cancer screening test. But it turns out that the company responsible for the test is promoting products that may be a bit ahead of the times...and science.


Kris told her daughters in the episode (which aired in January): “You give them a little bit of blood…and they can see if you’re predisposed to cancer.” While Kris, Kim and Khloe were all game for a BRCA test for breast cancer genes, Khloe refused to take the test—even claiming she was too busy sitting in a chair getting her make-up done, which requires tons of effort.

Kim eventually guilted Khloe into taking it, explaining how much their grandmother MJ (who survived breast cancer) would appreciate it. The appearance of fellow family friend Dr. Paul Nassif, himself a part of the E! network, seemed to help.

As Us Weekly reports, though, Pathways Genomics (the company featured on Keeping Up) may have been misleading about the accuracy of its tests. A CBS News investigative report cites the over 60,000 genetic tests (or liquid biopsies) on the market that claim to screen for cancer, but: “In the race to profit from this exploding industry, we found that some may be promising more than science can deliver.”

The legitimacy of the BRCA test hasn’t been called into question. But in September, Pathway started promoting a video for a CancerIntercept Detect and Monitor that’s designed to “detect a growing tumor in the body, before the patient may notice symptoms.” (The company has since taken the video down.)

In an interview with CBS, Stanford University cancer researcher Dr. Max Diehn said of the accuracy of that type of screening: “I think we’re still years away from that possibility. That absolutely requires thousands of patients and long-term trials.” CBS says the FDA also labels these liquid biopsy tests “a major health risk.”


Pathway CEO Jim Plante, meanwhile defended the marketing language in their video, saying, “We don’t say will. We say ‘may.’” And, “We never say [a liquid biopsy] replaces solid tissue biopsy.”

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Image via E! screengrab



It’s almost like you’re implying that you can’t go to the Kardasihians for solid evidence based medical advice.