The Determined Patient Knows the Utility of Genetic Testing
There is a tremendous emphasis on “personalized medicine” and there is nothing more personal than your DNA since it contains all the code to make another you! Many diseases and traits have been linked to one or more genes that are present in your DNA.
One of the areas of intense interest is which genes are associated with cancer. Probably the most publicized ones are the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These have been associated with breast and ovarian cancer. In fact, mutations in these can increase the risk of cancer over fivefold. So the question is, should you get genetic testing? Certainly if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you might want to get this particular genetic test done. However, the question is how you will benefit if you do learn that you have mutations in these genes.
First, while not having these mutations does not guarantee that you will not get cancer, having them does not ensure you that you will. Since genetic testing encompasses many genes, insights into your propensity to develop other illnesses may also be revealed. The determined patient does not fret about what they can’t change—that is, their genes—and uses the information to their advantage. There are specialists in this area, known as genetic counselors, who can objectively counsel you based on your screening results. They can let you know what your options are to maximize your ability to prevent the development of these diseases and how to stay vigilant so that if your condition changes, you know right away.