Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk: Why Does It Matter?
Genetic disorders that accumulate throughout a human’s life are the main cause of cancer. Our habits, environment, and other factors can trigger the onset of such a horrible disease. In rare cases – from 5 to 10% – the increased risk is associated with a hereditary predisposition to certain types of cancer. With the help of genetic testing, you can learn about the likelihood of a disease, its features, the most effective preventive methods, and treatment.
In this article, we will tell you in detail why it is important to undergo oncology genetic testing.
Accuracy of Oncogenetic Research
The accuracy and speed of genetic research depend on the capabilities of the chosen medical center, the experience of its specialists, and the methods of processing the results obtained. Israel’s Hadassah has become the third clinic in the world where self-extraction of genetic material is carried out for the F1CDx contest, the most advanced molecular test for sequencing tumor genomes to date. F1CDx allows doctors to efficiently find genetic abnormalities in tumor tissues and select a personalized treatment for the patient.
Thanks to the DNA extraction methods implemented by Foundation Medicine, Hadassah’s doctors have been able:
- to reduce the time required for a doctor to sign test results by 14%:
- to reduce the number of cases by 8% when the test did not bring a specific result over technical issues;
- to reduce the number of repeated checks during sequencing carried out in the medical center by 3%.
In the near term, cooperation between Hadassah and Switzerland-headquartered Roche Holding, which could lead to a real breakthrough in the field of diagnosis and treatment of cancer, is planned to be enhanced.
Who Needs Genetic Cancer Screening?
Genetic testing can detect specific changes in genes. These mutations can increase the risk of cancer or not affect it in any way. In some cases, cancer among family members may be non-hereditary. For example, the development of malignant diseases can be caused by a common environment, lifestyle, or bad habits.
Genetic research that can identify the true cause of cancer is recommended to undergo for:
1. People under 50 years of age with a diagnosis of breast, ovarian, stomach, or pancreatic cancer. These types of oncological diseases are most often hereditary. Testing will determine the mutation in the gene and help adjust the treatment;
2. People with a poor family history. Identification of a genetic mutation will allow the patient to take preventive measures, adjust a lifestyle, and approve an individual screening program (early diagnosis) with your doctor;
3. People with an established cancer diagnosis. Accurate identification of the genetic disorder that caused the development of the disease allows creating a personalized treatment program.
Hereditary Cancer: Where to Start Diagnostic?
For an initial assessment of the risk of hereditary cancer in your family, you need to collect all the needed information. Pay attention to whether close relatives have:
1. Oncological diseases up to 50 years old;
2. Cases of cancer recurrence;
3. Several different malignant diseases during life;
4. Cases of rare malignant diseases;
Your doctor may refer you to a genetic counselor based on your family history.
The specialist will conduct a risk assessment and all necessary studies, which include:
- Tests for the presence of gene mutations that provoke the development of cancer,
- Personal assessment of the likelihood of developing malignant diseases.
Following the test results, the geneticist will give his recommendations on lifestyle, early diagnosis, and prevention of cancer.
What Are the Advantages of Oncogenetic Testing?
1. A positive result allows patients to make a timely decision on changing their lifestyle, working conditions, and giving up bad habits.
2. Information about the risk of developing cancer provides an objective idea of the necessary screening tests throughout life;
3. Knowing about the likelihood of developing cancer and the possibilities to reduce the risk reduces the level of anxiety and fear of the disease.
In rare cases, when doctors can identify a defective gene but are unable to predict the full consequences of a genetic disorder, additional tests may be required.
Genetic testing makes it possible to determine the true nature of cancer, the likelihood of its occurrence, and many other features of the disease. By understanding the cause of the disease, Hadassah’s doctors develop an individualized treatment program with great efficiency.
If you or your loved ones are at risk of developing a hereditary form of cancer or if you need a consultation with a geneticist, please, send a request through the feedback form on the website. During the working day, our specialist will contact you, with whom you will discuss all the nuances: preliminary consultation, appointment and visit times, diagnostic procedures, and a treatment plan.