After a thorough discussion with your genetic counselor, you can decide if genetic testing is right for you. For an individual who has already been diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing may help their doctors make the best treatment plan or take proactive steps against a second cancer developing.
For those who have not had cancer, our main goal with genetic testing is to help you and your family members to be proactive against cancer. Genetic test results can help us to better understand your cancer risk and give you proactive cancer screening options to catch abnormalities as soon as possible. Sometimes preventive steps can be taken to reduce a person's chance of developing cancer. These proactive and preventive steps can be beneficial for both you and your family members. Most insurance companies will cover all or a portion of the cost of testing, though individual plans vary.
Genetic testing is usually done on a small blood sample, but sometimes saliva, cells from inside the cheek, or skin cells are used instead. The sample is then sent to a specialized laboratory, which looks for specific inherited changes (mutations) in your genes.
Not all genetic changes are harmful and no genetic test can say whether you will develop cancer for sure. Your genetic counselor will review your results with you in detail so that you understand your cancer risk and the steps you can take to prevent or catch cancer early.