If you are at higher risk for cancer, there are a number of things you and your doctor can do:

  • You might be advised to have more frequent monitoring to help detect cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage and improve cancer survival.
  • Your healthcare professional may recommend preventive strategies, including risk-reducing medications or surgeries, that may reduce your risk of developing cancer.
  • You and your healthcare professional can make more informed decisions on your treatment options.
  • Test results can help your relatives learn more about the inherited risk and how it may affect them.
  • In addition, family members who do not carry mutations that increase their cancer risk may avoid unnecessary medical interventions.

Note that any discussion of medical management options is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation. While genetic testing and medical society guidelines provide important and useful information, all medical management decisions should be made based on consultation between each patient and her healthcare professional.

Goals of Genetic Testing

The goals of genetic testing are to:

  • Provide valuable information for use in customizing medical management plans.
  • Determine whether you have a genetic mutation known to increase your risk for certain inherited cancers.
  • Help your healthcare professional make a timely and accurate diagnosis.
  • Enable your healthcare professional to better predict disease aggressiveness to assist in making more informed treatment decisions.
  • Assist your healthcare professional in making important decisions about the management of your disease.

Are you a candidate for genetic testing?

To help you assess whether you may benefit from hereditary cancer testing, take the Hereditary Cancer Quiz. This simple, 30-second quiz can help you get the information you need to discuss your risk of cancer with your healthcare professional and ask for further evaluation.

How is genetic testing done?

Genetic tests are performed on a sample of blood, hair, skin, amniotic fluid (if you are pregnant), or other tissue. The sample is then sent to a lab that specializes in genetic testing. The technicians look for specific changes in chromosomes, DNA, or proteins, depending on the suspected disorder. The lab returns the test results to the doctor who requested the test. It may take several weeks or longer to get the test results.

Does insurance cover genetic testing for cancer?

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to pay for both genetic counseling and breast and gynecological cancer testing (e.g., Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) testing) for women who meet certain criteria. For these patients, insurance companies must cover the entire cost of genetic counseling and breast and gynecological cancer testing with no out-of-pocket costs to the individual.

This information is provided for informational educational purposes only, and should not be considered as individual medical advice. Please discuss your specific situation with your medical provider.

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