Q: What is a genetic test and how is it performed?
Genetic testing is simple and done by collecting a small amount of blood
or saliva sample, which is then sent to a genetic testing laboratory.
Your DNA, the letters making up your genes, is isolated from the cells
and analyzed for any 'misspellings'. Some misspellings are benign,
while some are harmful. These are called gene mutations. Typically, within
three weeks, you will get your test results from your genetic counselor.
Q: How much does genetic testing cost and will my insurance cover it?
Before any medical procedure, consult with your insurance company to confirm
coverage. For a majority of plans, genetic counseling is covered, however,
each company has different policies. Similar to other healthcare services,
you may have have an out-of-pocket fee.
Q: Is my insurance company allowed to discriminate against me based on
my genetic tests results?
No. You and your genetic information are protected in The Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). This act protects your information
from being used to decide both employment and medical insurance decisions.
You are protected in the event that you decide to undergo a genetic test,
receive medical care, or participate in a clinical trial. GINA does NOT
protect against in the discrimination of purchasing life, disability or
long-term care insurance.
Q: Is genetic testing required?
Genetic testing is optional. Deciding when and whether to have genetic
testing is a personal decision, and our genetic counselor can help you
decide whether testing might be helpful to you and your family. Individuals
often undergo genetic testing around the age when their medical management
would change. This is around age 25 for women and between ages 35-40 for men.
Q: Can I get a genetic test without having to see a genetic counselor?
Typically, a genetic test is ordered by a genetic counselor or a physician.
Because the interpretation of the results is complex and not all physicians
are trained in genetics, you may be left with additional questions about
the implications of your results. Our genetic counselor has advanced training
in medical genetics and psychosocial counseling to best prepare you for
your results and explain the implications.
Q: Can genetic counseling help me if I do not know my family's history?
Genetic counseling can still be helpful even if you do not have information
on your family's history or you are an adopted individual. A genetic
counselor can help you decide whether a genetic test would be beneficial.
Q: Can genetic testing help me if I have already been diagnosed with cancer?
Yes. A genetic test will help determine if the cancer was inherited through
a gene mutation which can help physicians treat you more efficiently.
It has been found that some types of inherited cancer won't respond
to certain treatments while some respond very well. A genetic test can
also help determine if other family members may be at risk for carrying
the same mutation.
Q: Who in my family should get genetic testing?
The best strategy is to start testing someone in the family who has had
a cancer diagnosis. This is because that family member is more likely
than an unaffected relative to have an inherited gene mutation, if a detectable
mutation exists in the family. Testing can still be performed on an individual
who has not been affected by cancer. The genetic counselor can help you
establish the best testing strategy that will be most informative for
you and your family.