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Genetic Testing Can Help to Manage Cancer Risk

Almost 10% of cancers are hereditary, with over 50 hereditary syndromes associated with gene mutations. Hereditary disease is caused by inherited gene mutations passed from parents to children in a family. Through genetic testing, a patient will know if they are at high risk for particular types of cancer including ovarian, melanoma, prostate, colorectal, breast and other less common types like thyroid, pancreatic, brain and kidney cancer.

For many cancers, it is easy to inherit the risk than the disease itself. A significant personal or family history of cancer will prompt you to go for genetic testing in order to understand your risk and make informed decisions regarding your condition.

Genetic testing is essential for those with inherited risks of developing cancer. After testing, you can make lifestyle choices that will help you prevent cancer and make screening decisions that will help to detect the disease early.

Here are the risk factors that may prompt you to undergo genetic testing:

  • Family or personal history of cancer – This is where you have relatives with a history of cancer, or you have undergone cancer treatment before.
  • Cancer at an early age – When you have two or more relatives who have been diagnosed with cancer at early stages.
  • Multiple cancer types – This is when a relative is found to have two or more types of cancer.
  • Rare cancers – Some cancers like adrenocortical cancer, ovarian cancer or sarcoma are connected to inherited gene mutations.

Genetic testing involves an in-depth evaluation of the patient’s family and personal history. Blood or saliva samples are collected and sent over to the lab for testing. Once the test results are received, the doctors will help you interpret the findings and answer any questions you may have.

For patients who test positive for gene mutations, they will be presented with individualized treatment plans including medication, surveillance or preventive surgery. Those who test negative will undergo counselling for risk management and other preventive measures.

Genetic testing is essential in quality cancer care. It searches for specific changes in chromosomes, genes or proteins. This helps patients to understand their risks and gives them the chance to reduce theirs and their families’ risks for cancer. Genetic testing also helps to detect cancer early and increase the chances for successful treatment outcomes.

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