What is Genetic Testing?
Genetic tests are done to look for specific changes or mutations in a person’s chromosomes, genes or proteins. It is used to identify genetic conditions or a person’s risk of either developing a genetic disorder or passing on an inherited disease to a future generation. For people with a family history of cancer, it’s an important tool that can help identify the potential for problems, make decisions to monitor for early detection, or to decrease or prevent the chance of a future disease. A genetic counselor can help a patient with understanding the potential benefits of genetic testing.
Cancer that appears to run in families isn’t always caused by an inherited mutation, but rather environments or lifestyles. If a patient does test positive for an inherited genetic mutation, it is not a certainty that they will develop cancer.
The tests are done on blood and other tissue samples. At the time the test is done, a patient doesn’t necessarily have cancer, but may have a family history so they are choosing genetic testing as a proactive approach as a means of awareness.
Genetic tests results can help an oncologist:
Cancer awareness is key in finding the disease early when the chances for a successful cure are the highest.