DNA Testing For Cancer: What Are the Latest Updates?

Cancer is a potentially fatal condition where some of the body’s cells grow and divide abnormally and become challenging to manage or cure.

While many factors are linked with genetic changes that lead to cancer development, environmental and lifestyle are some of the leading reasons that conflict with ongoing genetic changes in the body to cause cancer. Thus, genetic testing or DNA tests have been proven to help identify cancerous growth or potential risks of cancer in the human body. It is possible that you may inherit such genes that increase the chance of cancer development. Therefore, it is a wise precaution to allow DNA testing to estimate your chance of developing cancer in your lifetime.

Latest Updates in DNA Testing For Cancer

As of June 2021, a landmark new DNA screening study has been identified to help determine cancer risk in young adults. A Monash University researcher has been granted a significant amount of funds to go ahead and develop this new low-cost DNA screening test. The study is directed to lead to significant improvement in DNA screen testing for cancer and reduce costs while offering preventative DNA screening by the public healthcare system. The aim is to fill the gap with people who run a high risk of cancer but cannot afford a DNA test, and may only find out once potentially diagnosed with incurable cancer.

DNA Testing For Cancer

DNA testing is a tool used to learn about the possible developments of the body’s cells and genes, called genetic mutations. It does so by identifying specific changes in your genes, proteins, or chromosomes so it can learn about any inherited cancer risks. While it is mainly used to predict your risk of developing this disease, the information is helpful and sometimes a deciding factor for your healthcare provider about whether you have inherited it and have a chance of passing it onto your children.

Certain types of cancers are easily identifiable as genes play a primary role in their development in the body:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Sarcoma

However, it is important here to understand that a DNA test is not 100% conformant to the types of cancers mentioned above. It only plays a significant role as an identifying agent specifying whether you have a higher risk of developing cancer than most people. Even according to research, an estimated 5 to 10% of all cancers are contributed to from an inherited gene variance. To put it simply, it means that only particular people with a gene mutation go on to develop cancer; for instance, someone with a 40% chance of developing cancer may never develop the disease, and someone with a 25% chance may turn into a serious cancer case.

→  Are You Eligible for DNA Testing For Cancer?

Not everybody can go on to have a specialized DNA test conducted to determine if they have a chance of running a cancer risk. Consequently, not everyone is comfortable with getting tested given they are in good health. Hence, several factors come into play when considering a good candidate for genetic testing.

→  Risk Assessment

Your healthcare professional will check both your personal as well as your family’s medical history to determine if you make for a good candidate for DNA testing. It should involve both your paternal and maternal side of the family and may go as far back as 4 to 5 generations to collect viable information.

→  Genetic Counseling

A genetic counselor helps you answer some basic but significant questions that help you make an informed decision about whether you want to get tested or not. However, they are important before testing as well as after, as they help you interpret your results and discuss the right course of action to take going forward.

→  Collection and Analysis

After your risk assessment, genetic counseling session, and signature of informed consent, you are ready for your DNA test. Going forward with the procedure would typically involve blood sampling and analyzing the collected blood sample. The blood is extracted from a primary vein in your arm. However, the sample collected doesn’t need to be only of blood. It can either be of saliva or even cheek cells, which are then analyzed by a lab expert specializing in genetic DNA testing. 

→  Results

It may take a few days to several weeks before you receive DNA testing results. Once they are available, your genetic counselor will receive them firsthand and contact you to discuss the developments enclosed. There are three verdicts to come out of a DNA test for cancer risk assessment:

  1. Positive – It means you carry a genetic variant, increasing your chances of developing cancer. Your genetic counselor will assess the level of risk and guide you accordingly.
  2. Negative – It means you haven’t inherited the specific gene variant that often leads to cancer development. However, it is important to remember that this doesn’t completely negate your chances of developing cancer throughout your lifetime, considering the role of genes we discussed earlier.
  3. Unspecified – this is a gray area where a genetic variant has been detected, however its significance for cancer development is unspecified or uncertain.

Bottom Line

Cancer is terrible and heartbreaking, but the developments and research conducted to assess the risks prematurely and prevent the onset of cancer are groundbreaking. Do your part by taking a DNA test with us at Health Link DNA. Contact us today to get started!

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