The science of genetic testing is becoming one of the most beneficial tests in determining if a person may have a likelihood to inherit a susceptibility to certain illnesses or diseases. This is especially true with cancers. Genetic testing looks at a person’s genetic makeup to see if there is evidence of vulnerabilities.
How is the testing done?
Genetic testing may sound like a complex or invasive test. It’s not. It’s actually really quite simple. A small sample of bodily fluid or tissue is taken. Normally a small blood sample is collected. However, it may be that saliva or skin cells are collected instead based on the type of test being conducted. Regardless, the collection process is quick and painless. Once collected, the sample is sent to a specialized lab where it is examined for evidence of vulnerabilities.
The DNA test will result in one of the following outcomes: positive, negative, true negative, or benign.
Positive. This may indicate that there is an increased risk of developing cancer in the future. Having this information helps a patient talk to her doctor to formulate a lifestyle to help lower the risk. Also, it provides needed information for family members who might also have inherited the variant.
Negative. This means the lab didn’t detect the variant that is present in other family member(s).
True Negative. A true negative result does not mean that there is no cancer risk, it means that the patient has not inherited the susceptibility.
Benign. Benign tests reveal genetic changes that are common in people without cancer. All of us have benign variants that don’t necessarily mean we are at risk.
Is Testing Important?
In a word, yes! It’s very important, especially in gynecological-related cancers. The results of the test can greatly aid in the management and treatment as well as in preventive measures for future cancer patients – or as Dr. Vahora calls them “Previvors!”. Dr. Vahora uses the results to tailor medical care specifically unique to each patient. To see if genetic testing is right for you, take this quick one-minute questionnaire: (https://www.hereditarycancerquiz.com/vahoramd).
Genetic information also benefits family members. Families with the variant become aware of the possible inherited risk. Our website has a page devoted to genetic testing containing pertinent information as well as a comprehensive list of commonly asked questions.
This information is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Should you have any questions or would like to discuss genetic testing, please contact the staff at Parveen S. Vahora, MD. We are here to help.