By now, we all know that genetic testing can uncover a variety of cancer risks in individuals regardless of the presence of symptoms. But despite its many benefits, there are still individuals who are on the fence about this procedure and what it entails.
To help you make an informed decision, here’s a brief look into some of the advantages and disadvantages involved when it comes to genetic testing.
Overview of the Benefits and Drawbacks
|Insight into genetic information||Costly procedure|
|Peace of mind||Uncertainty of results|
|Inform family members on genetic status||Cause for potential stress and anxiety|
3 Advantages of Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk
1. It offers insights into your genetic information
Whether it’s to understand your cancer risk or simply learn more about your gene structure, the results obtained from testing can offer a range of insights into your genetic history. Even if the results turn out to be positive, this makes way for early detection and heightened surveillance, which increases one’s chances of a successful outcome with treatment.
Genetic testing can also be especially useful for couples looking into starting a family and having children of their own. Through carrier or prenatal testing, you and your partner can assess the possibility of a genetic condition of your unborn child based on your family history.
At any and every stage of your life, genetic testing can pave the way for an accurate diagnosis from your physician, and the appropriate therapy and support for patients.
2. It gives you and your family peace of mind
If you’re worried about contracting a possible ailment due to family history or personal choice, turning to genetic testing can give you a sense of relief from the uncertainty.
When the results come out as negative, individuals can have peace of mind knowing that they have minimal cancer risk. However, even if positive results arise, this could give families more clarity when planning the next steps of their treatment plan with their genetic counsellor.
Regardless of the outcomes, the results retrieved will help all parties plan ahead for a better future for themselves and their families.
3. It is an opportunity to educate your loved ones
With the in-depth knowledge you now have on your cancer risk through genetic testing, this would be the perfect opportunity to alert and educate family members on their genetic status as well.
Informing them of your results and condition could encourage them to undergo testing to find out their own genetic status and cancer risk, which may be useful for making major life decisions as a family.
Above all, this can encourage an open conversation about cancer risk and eliminate the stigma surrounding genetic testing altogether.
3 Disadvantages of Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk
1. The procedure may be costly
On most occasions, the price of testing could cost a fortune. But the overall cost is still dependent on your local service provider.
Considering the uncertainty of the results, some patients and their families may have to undergo further testing, which would result in more financial strain as additional expenses start to pile up. Individuals are encouraged to plan ahead and financially prepare for unforeseen outcomes such as this.
On top of that, not all genetic tests are covered by health insurance plans. If you feel that you and your family may go through some financial difficulties while undergoing genetic testing, do consult with your insurance agent beforehand to get a clearer picture of what the overall costs may be.
2. Testing does not guarantee a negative result
Genetic testing only detects specific genetic mutations or changes in your chromosomes or proteins—not if you will get cancer. With that, a negative test result doesn’t completely eliminate one’s risk of cancer. In the same way, a positive test result doesn’t always imply that you will contract the disorder.
Although most hereditary cancers like breast, prostate, and colon cancer are less invasive, a positive test result may still be possible despite frequent screening and close monitoring. Thankfully, the obtained results can help physicians detect the disease at its early stages and come up with an appropriate treatment plan for their patients accordingly.
In certain instances, some results from genetic testing may come out as inconclusive or uninformative. This simply means that further testing may be recommended by the doctors to assess whether the unusual change is associated with increased cancer risk.
3. It could cause potential stress
Along with the hefty costs associated with testing and treatment, carrying a positive mutation could trigger negative emotions such as stress and anxiety. While genetic testing is very much a physical procedure, the outcomes may take a mental and emotional toll on the patient as well. Tension within the family unit may also arise as the results can reveal genetic information about other family members too.
Depending on the diagnosis and severity of the condition, individuals may have to make certain lifestyle changes as part of their treatment. For instance, newly diagnosed cancer patients may have to eliminate certain foods in their diet, undergo chemotherapy, and other necessary changes.
While these steps are an essential part of the treatment plan, it doesn’t take away the fact that all these sudden changes may cause immense stress for patients.
Now that you fully understand everything that genetic testing entails, you and your family can now make an informed decision on whether to seek your genetic information.
Is genetic testing right for you?
Even if you still have doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for an initial consultation before proceeding with the tests. Upon reviewing your family medical history, our genetic counsellors will guide you through the next steps so you don’t have to go through this journey alone.
While there may be limitations and drawbacks that may deter you from getting tested, our team is committed to making you feel at ease throughout the process.
For more information, drop us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.