The SOMC Cancer Center offers genetic testing through referral from a physician. The testing is done by Kimberlee Richendollar RN, BSN.
Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. Most of the time, testing is used to find changes that are associated with inherited disorders. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. Several hundred genetic tests are currently in use, and more are being developed. Genetic testing is voluntary. Because testing has both benefits and limitations, the decision about whether to be tested is a personal and complex one.
People have many different reasons for being tested or not being tested. For many, it is important to know whether a disease can be prevented if a gene alteration causing a disease is found. For example, those who have inherited forms of breast or colon cancer have options such as screening or early treatment.
Certain inherited gene flaws have been linked to higher risk of some cancers. Tests (called predictive gene tests) have been developed that will find some of these cancer-related genes in the human body. Gene testing can show which people are at higher risk of getting a disease before any symptoms appear. An accurate gene test can tell if a person has or does not have a disease-related gene flaw (mutation). It cannot predict whether a person will actually develop cancer.
If the flawed gene is present, many other factors can influence the chances that the person will actually develop cancer. This means that many people with the gene flaw may not get cancer at all. Even those who do not have the flawed gene may still be at risk for a certain types of cancer.
You may have questions about whether genetic testing is a good idea for you or your family members. Please discuss your questions with your doctor and health care team.
What the patient can do:
- Ask to talk with a specially trained nurse in genetics before you decide to have genetic testing.
- Ask how the test can help you and your family. Find out what problems it may cause.
- Ask how the test results might affect your ability to keep and get life, disability, and health insurance.
- Ask how the test results might affect your current or future job prospects.
- Ask about the privacy of your genetic testing results.
- Learn what you can do to lower your cancer risk, or your children's cancer risk, if testing shows that you have a flawed gene.
- Give yourself time to talk the testing over with your family before you make a decision, and come back if you have more questions.
Who do you call if you have questions?
If you have any questions regarding genetic testing please call Kimberlee Richendollar at (740) 356-7465.