Cancer often strikes without warning, sometimes going unnoticed and undiagnosed until later in progression. Being aware of the signs and symptoms and getting routine screenings is vital to finding cancer early and treating it effectively, but is there any way to ward off cancer before it strikes?
Genetic screening for cancer is one way for you and your healthcare provider to decide what action steps are best to fight cancer before its potential onset.
If you have a family history of certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer, you may have a genetic disposition that can only be detected with genetic screening. It will inform you about your cancer genetic risk, providing a cancer risk score that can be positive, negative, or uncertain. Keep reading to discover why genetic screening for cancer and other conditions may be right for you.
What is genetic screening?
Proactive genetic screening is a series of genetic tests that look for mutations or variations in your DNA to determine your specific risk of developing cancer and other conditions in the future. Genetic screenings are performed by analyzing a blood or saliva sample collection, and they are usually available in a matter of weeks. Licensed and trained professionals can also walk you through your results, or you can discuss your results and options for prevention with your doctor. Here are three reasons why you should get cancer genetic screening.
1. Cancer genetic screening reveals your cancer genetic risk.
Many of today’s medical screens and tests for cancer are actually for current diagnosis and not for genetic risk assessment for various common cancers. Screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and pap smears are great for detecting cancer early, but for many people, the screenings may not be performed until the later stages of cancer or when a fatal prognosis is imminent.
Cancer genetic screening is one of the best screens you can get because you can find out your cancer risk score years before the potential onset of cancer and take proactive measures. To be clear, genetic screening testing does not tell you if you will get cancer, just your risk of developing it.
For example, women (and men) with a family history of breast cancer may want genetic screening for cancer to detect mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, two important genes in the body that help fight against breast, ovarian, and other cancers. Mutations would indicate a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Approximately 50 out of 100 women with mutations of the BRCA genes will develop cancer by age 70 as compared to only 7 out of 100 women in the general population.
2. Genetic screening can be used by health professionals to inform a prevention plan.
There is a plethora of medical treatments for cancer including aggressive chemotherapy, surgery, and medications, but these treatments are not without side effects and risks. For instance, chemotherapy and radiation kill cancer cells to stop the spreading of disease; however, they also kill healthy cells, resulting in hair loss, weight loss, nausea, pain, and even mouth and throat sores. Depending on the stage of cancer, they may also be ineffective.
Genetic screening for cancer, however, has no known risk associated with testing. It only reveals your cancer risk. Other genetic screenings such as pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing can also reveal how you will respond to certain treatments like medications. In a study produced by the National Library of Medicine, 74% of interviewed physicians agreed that genetic testing is clinically useful.
Also, after analyzing your genetic screening results, your healthcare provider may suggest steps you can take to prevent cancer including:
- Starting cancer screening earlier than the recommendation for the general population
- Screening for the specific cancer more often
- Scheduling tests that are specifically for people with an increased cancer risk
- Increasing your awareness of the signs and symptoms of the cancer
- Taking advantage of options such as medications, surgery, or lifestyle changes
3. Genetic screening for cancer is accurate.
So much of who you are can be found in your DNA. DNA explains your body chemistry and makeup along with your ancestry.
DNA testing of all kinds is 99.9% accurate, even more accurate than fingerprint analysis and other forms of identification. Genetic screening is DNA testing that analyzes your genes for certain markers or mutations. Therefore, one of the best recourses for fighting cancer (other than diet and lifestyle) is genetic screening for cancer.
Genetic screening is a game changer as it helps you take a proactive approach to evaluating your health risks, including your cancer risk. Genetic screening for cancer is a breeze with ARCpoint Labs. Our screening is affordable, quick, and painless. We have been providing medical testing solutions for over 20 years, and our staff of trained and licensed professionals is here to serve you with quality care. Get your screen today!