3 Facts You Need To Know Before Getting A DNA Test For Cancer

Posted on: 4 June 2015


Being diagnosed with cancer can be a frightening experience. With 7.6 million people dying from cancer each year, patients diagnosed with this disease have every right to be frightened. If you are hoping to avoid a surprise cancer diagnosis in your future, you might want to consider investing in DNA testing.

Here are three facts you need to know to help you get the most out of a genetic cancer screening in the future.

1. What are doctors looking for when conducting a DNA cancer screening?

Some cancers appear to run in families. While shared environmental conditions could play a factor in the development of the disease, the type of cancer, age at diagnosis, and other patterns could be contributed to hereditary conditions.

When your doctor conducts a genetic screening to test for cancer, he or she will be looking for genetic mutations. These mutations, or inherited changes in your chromosomes, can be an indicator that you are at risk of developing cancer. Since genetic mutations are believed to be a contributing factor in 5% to 10% of all cancer cases, identifying these mutations early could be beneficial.

2. Does the presence of a genetic mutation mean that I am destined to develop cancer?

The good news is that the detection of a genetic mutation doesn't mean that you are certain to develop cancer in the future. Each person inherits two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent. The genes on these chromosomes can be either dominant or recessive. This means that the mutated gene can be either dominant or recessive as well.

Since two recessive genes are required in order to display the characteristics associated with that gene, you must inherit a mutated cancer gene from both parents in order to be certain that you will develop cancer at some point during your lifetime.

3. How will I know if genetic screening for cancer is right for me?

Not everyone needs to invest in a genetic cancer screening. You can determine if you are a viable candidate by evaluating your risk factors. If you have close family members diagnosed with cancer at a young age, then genetic screening could help determine if hereditary factors contributed to these early diagnoses.

If another close family member has already invested in genetic screening and a mutation was discovered, it would be wise for you to test for the mutation as well. 

Developing cancer is a fear that many people share. By making the choice to educate yourself on genetic screening, you will be able to determine if this type of DNA testing can help you eliminate the unknown when it comes to your chances of developing cancer in the future.