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Genetic Testing
Parveen S. Vahora, MD, FACOG - Trinity, FL

Genetic testing is a cutting-edge medical technique that looks at your unique genetic makeup and that can be used to see how your DNA might shape your health over the course of your life. A sample of DNA is collected—typically with a small sample of blood or saliva—then analyzed in a lab to look for evidence of genetic disorders or vulnerabilities to some diseases. For example, people with certain gene mutations might develop some cancers earlier in life, or at a higher rate, than the general population.

The information gathered from genetic testing is a powerful tool that can help Dr. Vahora tailor medical care and treatment just for you. If a specific mutation is found in your genetic makeup, she could decide to monitor you more closely for certain symptoms, run cancer-screening tests earlier, or identify steps you can take to help prevent cancer from developing.

To see if genetic testing makes sense for you, fill out this one-minute questionnaire.

Common Questions about Myriad Genetic Testing

Who should consider genetic testing for cancer risk?

Anyone can benefit from discussing family history and cancer risk with their doctor, but genetic testing is not always necessary. Dr. Vahora recommends that all of her patients take this simple quiz as a starting point. People with a family history of certain cancers, who belong to an at-risk population, or who have already had cancer may be good candidates for additional screening.

What will genetic testing tell me?

Up to 10 percent of cancer patients have an inherited gene mutation. Women with certain genetic mutations have up to a 44-percent risk of developing ovarian cancer and up to an 87-percent risk of developing breast cancer over their lifetime. Nothing can perfectly predict whether you will develop cancer. But genetic testing can tell you whether you have these genetic mutations, which can help your doctor track your health, detect problems early, and treat you more effectively if necessary.

What kinds of cancer can I be tested for?

Dr. Vahora uses the Myriad MyRisk Hereditary Cancer test, which looks at 28 genes to see if you have a higher risk of breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate, and endometrial cancer.

Will genetic testing tell me if I'm going to get cancer?

No. A positive test result does not mean you will get cancer. It simply means you have a higher risk of developing a certain type of cancer than the average person, and your doctor may adapt your care to keep you healthy.

How does the testing process work?

The first step is to take this quiz, which should take about 1 minute to complete. If the quiz indicates you should be evaluated further, your information will be sent to Dr. Vahora in a secure, private email. She will talk to you in person about whether genetic testing makes sense for you. The Myriad MyRisk Hereditary Cancer test is a quick, non-invasive test conducted in the office—either using a small blood sample or a specialized mouth rinse. Afterward, you will come in for a follow-up visit, and she will make an individualized care plan for you, depending on what your results show.

What happens if my results come back positive for cancer risk?

Dr. Vahora uses a multidisciplinary team approach and will build a team of expert care providers, based on which cancer is of concern. Dedicated to the philosophy of precision medicine, where health care is tailored to an individual’s needs, Dr. Vahora and your team will design a personalized plan for effective monitoring, prevention, or treatment should it be necessary.

What can I do to prevent these cancers?

Dr. Vahora is proactive about your health, with the goal of making you a “previvor”—someone who beats cancer before it develops. She will talk to you about whether you are a good candidate for surgery or medication, and will help identify other steps you can take to prevent cancer.

I’ve already been tested for hereditary cancer. Should I get tested again?

Genetic testing technology is constantly improving. Depending on your family history, the results of your questionnaire, and what tests you’ve taken in the past, your doctor might recommend that you take a new test. See your doctor to find out.

Should I get genetic testing if my family member carries a gene mutation that causes cancer?

Everyone’s situation is different—even family members. Talk to your doctor about getting tested so she can look at your specific genetic makeup.

Is the Myriad MyRisk Hereditary Cancer test covered by insurance?

Most insurance providers cover genetic testing for hereditary cancers.

What does the Myriad genetic test cost?

For most patients, the test is free. The Affordable Care Act requires that genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers be free. In addition, Myriad offers a financial assistance program to keep costs low for underinsured patients, and free for patients without insurance. And Myriad will alert you if you do not qualify for coverage, so you won’t be surprised by charges.

Will my results be kept private?

Yes. Myriad will only share your results with the doctor who ordered the test, or with someone you have specifically designated with written consent.

If my results are positive for cancer risk, will I still be able to get insurance?

Yes. Federal laws and many state laws prohibit discrimination regarding employment, health benefits, or health insurance premiums based on genetic information.

Is genetic testing available for men?

Yes. Dr. Vahora now offers the Myriad test for men. Payment for the consultation is cash only.

Dr. Vahora also offers GeneSight, a genetic test that helps doctors understand which medications--such as antidepressants and pain medications--will work best for you.

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