Dr. Theodora Ross, a cancer geneticist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says that to Silicon Valley types, she is like a taxi driver competing against the more convenient, Uber-like direct-to-consumer companies such as 23andMe. “They think we don’t need to exist,” she said. The techy approach invites consumers to swab a cheek and mail in the sample, and promises to reveal a broad swath of genetic information.

But unbeknownst to many seekers, direct-to-consumer services don’t deliver what a cancer geneticist like Ross does. Some people, after submitting DNA to such companies, end up in her office, panicked over what turn out to be a false results.

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