Genetic testing is a test that looks for inherited changes or mutations in a person’s genes. It is done by gathering a blood or saliva sample from a patient that is sent to a specialty lab that performs this type of testing.
Only 5-10% of all cancers diagnosed are due to inherited germline genetic mutations, so not all patients with cancer need to have this testing completed. A doctor may refer a patient for genetic counseling and testing if they meet the following criteria:
- Diagnosed with a cancer at a young age, before age 50
- Have a family history of the same type of cancer(s) on their mother or father’s side of the family
- Have been diagnosed with 2 different types of cancers
- Are of certain ethnicity such as Ashkenazi Jewish
Having an inherited genetic mutation can increase a person’s risk of developing a specific type of cancer and it may also change treatment recommendations in someone newly diagnosed with cancer.
People need to be knowledgeable about their family history of cancer in parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Knowing the type of cancer they had and the age they were diagnosed with that cancer may be critical in determining if genetic testing is warranted and if insurance will cover the testing cost.
At the Community Cancer Center, a Registered Nurse will meet with individuals to educate them about the testing process and to discuss the possible benefits and limitations of testing.
For more information about genetic testing at the Community Cancer Center please call 309-451-2210.