Debunking Common Myths About Genetic Testing
If you could take a simple test that can help identify your risks of potentially deadly disease so you could treat it sooner or even prevent it, wouldn’t you?
A proactive genetic test can do just that. Caroline Ewart, a Genetic Counselor in the Center for Precision Medicine and Genomic Health at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, says, “Understanding your family tree is important for your future health. Genetics play a big role in what diseases we will develop in the future. The more we understand the family, the more you can proactively do to protect your health.”
However, many people do not consider genetic testing because they think it is too expensive, not accurate enough, or doesn’t screen for the diseases that run in their family. Caroline is helping us bust some of the common myths of genetic testing.
Myth #1: Genetic Testing is Too Expensive
When genetic testing started, it was very expensive, and only a few select laboratories across the country were equipped to perform the tests. Fast forward to today, advancements in science and technology have driven the price considerably down. Genetic testing is very affordable. Numerous health insurance companies will provide some or all coverage for genetic testing. With qualifying insurance, a genetic test can cost you nothing out of pocket. To find out more, reach out to one of Vita Medical Solutions Patient Consultants.
Myth #2: Genetic Testing Only Finds Cancers
“It’s true, when genetic testing was in its infancy, we only tested for BRCA1 and 2 genes which detect breast and ovarian cancers,” says Caroline Ewert. “But the tests today are far more sophisticated. We now test for over 100 different gene mutations looking for a range of diseases and cancers.”
Inherited conditions the tests screen for include but are not limited to:
- Breast cancer
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Medication reactions (Pharmacogenomics)
- Colorectal cancer
- Cutaneous melanoma
- Gastric cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Renal cell cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Myth #3: Genetic Testing Does Not Help the Treatment of Diseases
Genetic testing is used not only to proactively screen for certain diseases, but it can be used to treat them as well. Genetically guided therapies are becoming more and more popular with each passing year.
“If you have been diagnosed with cancer, the gene mutation may guide treatment. It can also help your team manage increased risks of developing other types of cancers,” says Caroline.
Moreover, the results of your genetic test can guide your doctor and healthcare team’s recommendations for screening of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This may include starting screenings at an earlier age, increasing the frequency of screenings or suggesting more advance screenings.
“By screening early, we can find the disease early, when it is most treatable,” says Caroline.
Myth #4: Genetic testing companies are going to sell my information
You’ve probably seen recent headlines about genetic testing companies selling genetic results data to pharmaceutical companies or even other countries. What’s important to understand is that the data that genetic testing companies typically share with third parties is “de-identified”. That means that no one will be able to see your personal results and identify them as yours. This reporting might take the form of summary-level data from all patients, in which it’s impossible to pull out your specific information.
If the idea of having even your unidentified information out there is concerning, most companies will offer you the option to remove your data from their system or not have it shared with third parties.
Altovise Ewing, PhD, LCGC, a medical science liaison at 23andMe, says that the company offers consumers the choice of allowing researchers to use their de-identified data for research.
“Engaging in research is one thing that more than 80% of our customers choose to do. However, if someone decides not to engage in research that is definitely an option they can exercise,” Ewing says. “If someone wants us to discard their sample once the testing has been performed and they receive their results they can notify us to destroy their sample and we would definitely follow through with that request.”
Myth #5: Genetic testing companies won’t keep my information safe
Like Myth 4, many people are concerned their data will not be kept safe and private. With the number of credit card breaches and hacks in recent years, it’s natural to feel a some skepticism of how well companies will handle the security of your personal data. Fortunately, many genetic testing companies work extremely hard, including Vita Medical Solutions, to keep your data very secure. Companies that are HIPPA-compliant recognize that your results are medical information. Companies are are required by law to protect your health information in secure portals and data systems that include advanced security features.
Interested in genetic testing or want to learn more about your options?
Scientific advances reinforce the ever growing need for genetic testing. Vita’s Vision: To provide all individuals with genetic testing options (Test.), facilitate understanding of personal genetics (Know.), accelerate learning and interpretation of personal genetics (Educate.), create actionable implementation of genetic knowledge (Advocate.).
Our ultimate goal or Mission is to make personalized medicine accessible for every person and their family, and we plan to accomplish this goal through our vision.
Ready to join us on our Mission? Learn more about your personal and family genetic makeup and personalized medicine options through our genetic test offerings. These include:
Even better news, with qualifying insurance, this test can cost you nothing out of pocket. Click here to schedule a call with one of Vita Medical’s Patient Services Consultants to find out your eligibility.
Call us 1.800.590.9292 (toll free) or email at [email protected]
Test. Know. Educate. Advocate.
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