Recurrent Breast Cancer

Friday, January 11, 2013

 Can You Predict Your Future Health?
   Genetic analysis provides an opportunity to explore increased risk for certain health conditions. For example, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s might have a genetic link. 

  A type of genetic testing is “carrier screening.” This test analyzes genes to determine if health problems can be passed on to children. In addition, testing can provide health risk assessment and identify risk factors before symptoms appear.

  The most common sources for testing are cheek swabs and saliva collection of saliva.
Lab technicians scan the DNA (gene) sample for “mutated sequences.” They also compare DNA to normal, healthy genes and look for differences. 

  Cost of testing ranges from under one hundred to several thousand dollars. If you are interested, contact your doctor and medical insurance to see if would be covered.

Interpreting Results
  Presence of a “mutation” does not mean that disease is certain. Rather, it means that there is an increased risk compared to that of the general population.  Many health conditions originate from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Healthy lifestyle and weight reduction, for example, can reduce risk. 

  It’s important you discuss results with your doctor.  Your physician can help put your results in perspective, recommend options for lowering risk, and talk about fears or concerns.  

  Genetic testing can save lives. Finding out that you’re at risk for a disorder gives you the opportunity to take steps to prevent that disorder. For example, a person with high risk for cancer may get more frequent screenings. Cancer has a higher survival rate if diagnosed and treated early.

  Drawbacks of genetic testing include anxiety caused by the results; lack of available medical options for some diseases; limitations of testing, including lab error; possible discrimination based on results; and problems interpreting a positive result.

  People who try to interpret results by themselves might misunderstand the information. They might avoid seeing a doctor due to fear that a negative result will be confirmed. Discussing results with a health care provider is crucial. 

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