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What You Should Know About Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer

Blog, Family Medicine, General Health, Patient Safety

April 01, 2018 | 4 minute read

The cancer diagnosis of a close relative is one of the most heartbreaking pieces of news you can hear, and unfortunately, far too many of us have a family member who has or has had cancer. One in every three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and these already high numbers increase even more when there is a family history of cancer.

There are 26 genes in the body that increase the risk for multiple types of cancers, and these genes can be passed from parent to child. Vitality Medical Wellness Center offers genTrue™ hereditary cancer testing from True Health to give its patients peace of mind and the ability to address and minimize cancer risks before it becomes too late.

The Genetic Testing

The GenTrue™ hereditary cancer testing process analyzes the 26 genes most responsible for increased cancer risk, including breast, colorectal, prostate, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. This preventive cancer testing differs from previous options in that it offers a multi-gene approach, which reveals more comprehensive information in a single testing session. This allows your clinician to assess your risk better, and create a personalized, preventive plan if necessary.

Genetic testing for cancer with genTrue™ can be performed through blood tests or saliva samples, and the final reports are easy to read and understand. This clarity of results ensures that there is no information lost between the lines and you can better understand and manage your risks. All results come with a personalized Patient Guide to highlight the next steps, such as increased surveillance, chemoprevention, surgical intervention, and family testing.

Why Should You Be Tested For Cancer?

Studies have shown that at-risk patients who choose hereditary cancer testing have increased survival statistics and overall better health outcomes. Genetic mutations cause 10 percent of cancers, and if left untouched, can significantly increase your risk of developing cancer. For forms such as breast and colon cancer, this increased chance can be as high as 82 percent. When at-risk genes are discovered early, there is time to manage the risk and change the future outcome.

What Are the Benefits of Testing?

Hereditary cancer testing gives you the tools you need to be proactive about your health. You have a much higher chance of being able to treat or even prevent certain cancers if you have prior knowledge that you are susceptible to them. Studies have shown that not taking preventive measures can increase your chances of developing cancer, in some cases up to 82 percent. However, knowing what types of cancer you may be at risk for can help you and your doctor develop a plan for preventive measures or treatment options.

Who Should Be Tested For Cancer?

While hereditary cancer testing is essential for early detection and everyone, it is especially vital for patients with a high-risk family history. These patients include family members with:

Rare forms of cancer, such as:

  • Male breast cancer
  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Colorectal cancer with abnormal MSI/IHC, MSI-associated histology
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer with abnormal MSI/IHC
  • 20 or more gastrointestinal polyps

Cases of cancer that occur before the age of 49, such as:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer

Three or more family members on the same side of the family who have experienced:

  • Breast, ovarian, aggressive prostate, or pancreatic cancer
  • Colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, or gastric cancer
  • Melanoma

It is important to remember that even though you may test positive for a certain gene, that does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer. Genetic cancer testing exists to help patients learn and manage their risks.

What Should You Do if You Test Positive?

If you test positive for certain cancer-causing genes, genTrue™ will include certain preventive measures you can take in your report. Then, together with your doctor, you can take charge of your health by being proactive. Recommendations included in your report may include family testing, surgical intervention, chemoprevention, and other solutions. Options such as these have been shown to increase survival rates for those at risk for hereditary cancers.

Will My Insurance Cover Testing?

Most insurance providers will cover hereditary cancer testing if your doctor deems it medically appropriate. This will depend on your insurance company and the plan that you have, so it is important to check before you undergo any testing. You may also be able to self pay, if desired. For more information on payment and testing options, take a look at the genTrue™ website.

If you are interested in learning more about the genTrue™ testing, or to get tested, contact Dr. Cristy Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, APRN at Vitality Medical Wellness Center by calling 702-660-4968.

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