You might consider genetic testing if you suspect an inherited condition in your family
You may be a candidate for genetic testing if you know or suspect there is a genetic disease in your family. In other words, if there is a condition such as cancer that affects several members of your family, genetic testing might be helpful. Genetic testing might also be helpful in children that have a delay in development and/or multiple birth defects, or in adults who have multiple severe health problems. Talk to your doctor or a genetic counselor if you would like to know about your risk for a genetic condition and what genetic testing could tell you. Even if your family does not appear to have an obvious risk of a genetic condition, seeing a genetic counselor can give you piece of mind if you have questions or concerns.
The genetic counselor will work with you to explain what genetic tests might be appropriate, what information they might provide, and when testing may not be helpful to you. There are circumstances when you may decide not to have testing, including:
- When you clearly would prefer not to know if a risk was inherited, even if there is a strong family history
- If there is no treatment available or little health benefit to learning about a genetic condition
- If you are relying on life insurance – in some cases, positive genetic testing results may invalidate life insurance coverage.
Even if you have a strong family history of a condition, the genetic counselor may recommend an affected family member get tested first. This is most helpful because if genetic testing detects a genetic mutation in that person, it’s highly likely that is the cause of the condition. This can provide more information for everyone in the family and validates the test. At that point, you and other family members can decide if you would like to be tested for the same genetic mutation. If a genetic mutation is not found in that relative, the genetic counselor will guide you regarding whether or not genetic testing will be helpful for you.
There are other times when you may not be interested in genetic testing for a particular condition but rather are interested in non-disease related information, such as ancestry or paternity. These are relatively new methods to find out more genetic knowledge about yourself with Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing. Learn More about whether direct-to-consumer genetic testing is right for you and how genetic counselors are available to help you along the way.
Find a Genetic Counselor