Simply put, genetic testing is the process of using medical tests to look for changes (mutations) in a person’s genes or chromosomes.
The type of testing most often used to check for cancer risk is called predictive gene testing. It’s used to look for gene mutations that might put a person at risk of getting cancer. It’s usually done in a patient who has a history of cancer in their family and a chance of inheriting the disease. The test helps to determine if a person has a certain gene mutation known to increase the risk for a certain cancer or confirm a suspected gene mutation in a person or family member.
An example is testing for changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (known breast cancer genes) in a woman whose mother and sister had breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, only about five to ten percent of all cancers are thought to be related to an inherited gene change that strongly affects a person’s risk for a certain type of cancer.
At Community Health Network, we frequently use genetic testing and have genetic counselors to shepherd patients through the process. Our certified genetic counselor, Rebekah Krukenberg, MS, CGC, LGC, helps breast cancer patients understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease.
Questions about genetic counseling?
Call the Community Health Network genetic counseling hotline at 317-621-8988.