Genetic testing is a process where medical tests are used to identify mutations (changes) in an individual’s genes or chromosomes. Several hundreds of genetic tests exist today and many are still being developed. Genetic tests can be carried out for diseases that can be inherited. Thus, the tests can be used in many situations. For instance, to test for cancer risk, predictive gene testing can be done. In other cases, carrier screening is carried out in a situation where one person in a family’s history has a mutant copy of a particular gene. Pre-implantation testing can be done in prenatal periods such that embryos are tested before implantation.
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Value of Genetic Testing
Although genetic testing has its drawbacks, its benefits far outnumber them. First of all, it provides a clearer understanding of one’s risk of particular cancer. By this, one can be in a perfect position to make an informed decision concerning his or her health. Negative results on families that are at high risk of particular cancer can be quite relieving. Positive results could help one confront the disease soon enough. It, therefore, matters not whether the results are positive or negative.
Genetic testing is also useful for people already diagnosed with cancer. Diagnosing the tumor can always help decide on its outlook. This helps in deciding on the proper treatment and management of that cancer.
Genetic counseling can be conducted before or after genetic testing. Managing and dealing with information touching on cancer pose a challenge to many people. The segment most likely to be disturbed is that of people who have a strong family health history of particular cancer. Even for those families that do not have such history, understanding issues to do with the disease can be equally challenging. This is why genetic counseling comes in handy. Through it, individuals or their families may get specialized training and guidance by being provided with an array of useful information, relevant resources as well as support.
Value of Genetic Counseling
The psychological benefits of genetic counseling are many. This is because genetic testing becomes risky when the results have a high potential of indicating that one is at high risk. This counseling may help them know what to do. For example, they may be advised about the need for frequent check-ups.
Even though negative results may be relieving to an individual, that individual may not know that such results may not necessarily indicate that they may not develop cancer in the future. It is now the role of genetic counselors to help such individuals be aware of this fact. They may impress upon such people the need for regular check-ups.
Value of knowing that one has a particular genetic mutation
It still important for one to know that they have a particular genetic mutation. First of all, the uncertainty over whether one is at a higher risk than the rest of the population shall be removed. Secondly, with genetic testing, one will have obtained an almost accurate estimate of the risk they are exposed to than they would have by looking at family history only. Also, one can tell in advance the risk their offspring may be exposed to and advise accordingly. The same may apply to the larger family. All in all, gene testing greatly helps in making people be better informed concerning surveillance, prevention as well as management of cancer.