Genetic Testing For Cancer


Genetic testing is used to identify genes that have been shown to increase the risk of a number of medical conditions including cancer. Although it is very reliable it is not performed routinely, while most health experts think that there is no need for routine genetic testing for cancer. On the other hand, the statistics show that 1 out of 4 people will develop cancer at certain point of their lives which is why many people are interested in genetic testing for cancer.

Like most diseases, cancer is believed to be caused by a combination of several factors although it often remains unknown what triggers mutation of healthy cells into cancerous cells because the disease can also affect people without any risk factors. The scientists have identified several factors that increase the risk of the disease among other also certain genes which have been shown to play an important role in some types of cancer. Genetic testing can detect the presence of genes which are associated with increased risk of cancer which in turn may give you enough time to prevent the disease from occurring.


Although cancer can be developed by anyone, genetic testing is usually recommended only to people who have a strong family history of a type of cancer that is influenced by genetic factors such as breast cancer for example. Two genes have been shown to be closely related to breast cancer – breast cancer gene (BRCA) 1 and BRCA 2, however, they are estimated to be responsible for only about 5 to 10 percent of all cases of breast cancer. In addition, having one of the mentioned cancer genes does not necessarily mean that you will develop it. Genetic testing only shows the presence of genetic mutations that are linked to cancer but they cannot predict whether you will get the disease or not.

Genetic testing involves collection of a blood sample or cheek swab and does not pose any health risks or side effects. It is usually ordered by a doctor if he or she thinks that your family medical history may put you at increased risk of a particular type of cancer. The collected sample is then sent to the laboratory to search for particular gene mutations, while the results of the test are described as positive or negative. A positive test means that the cancer gene has been detected, while a negative result means that no genetic mutations have been discovered. However, a positive test does not necessarily mean that you cannot avoid cancer, while a negative test is not a guarantee that you will not develop the disease. As already mentioned earlier, about 90 percent of breast cancers for instance are not related to genetic alterations. Despite that genetic testing is very useful for cancer risk prediction as well as selection of the right prevention plans in case of a positive result.