Genetic testing is the process of using medical tests to look for changes (mutations) in a person’s genes or chromosomes.

Genetic testing for diseases that can be inherited

Predictive gene testing is used to look for gene mutations that might put a person at risk of getting a disease. It’s usually done in families with a history that suggests there’s a disease that may be inherited. An example is testing for changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (known breast cancer genes) in a woman whose mother and sister had breast cancer. These two tests are performed with our partners at the Breast Center at Floyd. It’s important to remember that testing positive for a gene mutation is not a guarantee of developing cancer. Some people who test positive for a mutation never get cancer.

Are you at risk?

A brief family health assessment will help determine if you are a candidate for genetic testing. If you answer “yes” to any one of these, talk to your primary care physician to learn more about genetic testing.

  • Family member with a known inherited gene mutation
  • Family member with breast, colon, or uterine cancer diagnosed under the age of 50
  • Family member with ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age
  • Two or more close family members who have had the same type of cancer
  • The same type of cancer in several generations of the family

How genetic testing works

Genetic testing consists of a mouthwash or blood test. Analysis of the sample can determine if you inherited a gene mutation that may have contributed to your diagnosis of cancer. Genetic testing might also help determine if your risk is greater for developing the same or another type of cancer again.

Genetic testing results

Genetic testing may help you make informed decisions about how to manage future risks of cancer.

The test results can help your doctor develop a plan of care individualized just for you. Test results can also be of great value to family members.

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