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Should I Consider Genetic Testing?

June 15, 2022

What is Genetic Testing?

If you were diagnosed with cancer at an early age or have a family history of the disease, genetic testing may help to save your life.

Genetic testing looks for specific changes in a person’s genes to provide an early warning for cancer risk. These changes or variants can have harmful or uncertain effects on your risk of developing cancer. Some harmful variants are associated with a higher risk of cancer, and the National Institutes of Health reports they may contribute to up to 10 percent of all cancers.

Testing is easy, and the cost is covered by most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. The test requires a small sample of saliva or blood, which is analyzed by a genetic testing lab. Results are available in about three weeks

Only about 10% of people test positive, which means we found a change in your cancer protection gene, and you may have an increased chance of developing certain cancers. As a result, we will collect a detailed health history from you and may suggest more personalized screenings to identify the cancer in question or reduce your future cancer risks.

We may also recommend genetic testing for your blood relatives, including siblings and adult children, so they can address their risks.

Like every other part of your medical record, genetic test results are only available to you and your health care team. Federal law protects you from losing health insurance or insurance rate hikes if you test positive for a gene change. Your identifiable results cannot be used without your written permission.

Getting tested can provide either peace of mind that you have not inherited a harmful gene or early warning about an increased risk of cancer. If you have already been diagnosed with cancer, the test results can help your doctors recommend decisions more focused on your unique situation.

Get the care you need 

If you’re worried about a genetic link to cancer, it’s time to discuss it with your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, Grady can help. If you need a primary care physician, give us a call at (404) 616-1000. We’ll arrange an appointment at a Primary Care Center near you. Doctors there can provide access to Grady’s cancer genetic specialists to put your mind at ease.