David M. Kaplan, MScHA
Joint Center for Bioethics
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Alzheimer's disease (AD), a disorder characterized by a progressive loss of cognitive function, affects approximately five and a half million North Americans.1 Advances in the Human Genome project and genetic testing over the last decade have allowed clinicians and researchers to assess an individual's genetic risk of developing AD.2 This paper examines the practical and ethical implications of using genetic testing in order to screen for an individual's risk of developing AD. A useful screening test should be able to exclude unaffected individuals--that is, it should have a high sensitivity and be able to identify affected individuals. It should also have a high specificity. Traditionally screening tests have only been applied for diseases for which preventive measures were available.