Today, more and more people are becoming proactive about their health. And one major way they’re doing so is through genetic testing. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), there are “thousands of genetic tests available to aid physicians in the diagnosis and therapy of many diseases.” And that’s not even counting the tests that can be taken without the assistance of a physician. While taking appropriate measures to get a better handle on your health— and potentially the health of your relatives— is a good thing, it’s highly important to understand that not all genetic tests are created equal and they don’t all test for the same things. In fact, the two major types of available genetic tests have enough differences worth noting before making any final decisions.
June 5, 2020
How does genetics contribute to diseases like cancer?
TL: Cancer is a genetic disease. We have approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in every cell of our body. Multiple genes are involved in regulating cell growth and repairing errors in our DNA. These genes typically protect us from developing cancer. Over time, we can acquire mutations (changes) in these genes leading to cancer development.
April 8, 2020
In 2020 alone, the American Cancer Society estimates about 21,750 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While this is much lower than the 276,480 women estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, ovarian cancer is often more deadly and is not talked about as frequently. Therefore, knowing your risk for ovarian cancer and taking precautions before a diagnosis can help save your life and the lives of your family members.
February 21, 2020
By Alison Johnson
Fifteen years ago, it was rare for someone to call an oncologist before they had a cancer diagnosis. Today, genetic counseling and testing is increasingly helping high-risk patients determine if they have a mutation that could cause disease.
Next-generation gene sequencing can now uncover hundreds of cancer-causing mutations in more than 80 genes in one tube of blood, delivering results in two to three weeks. That advanced technology can guide decisions on possible preventative measures, from lifestyle changes to extra screening tests to medications or prophylactic surgery.
November 25, 2019
Family history is a term often tossed around by medical professionals and the media alike. Do you know your family history? Do you know how to take your family history? Who is an important part of your family history – parents, grandparents, children, cousins, or beyond? Do you understand the importance of sharing your family medical history with your healthcare provider? If you answered no to any of these questions, keep reading!
The family medical history has rapidly become one of the most important cancer screening tools we have available and yet, unfortunately, so many people know very little about their family history or have been unwilling to share this information with their relatives. While there may be a difference in cultural norms that have previously prevented – or currently prevent – discussing personal health history, we challenge you to consider the benefit of asking and sharing health information with your family members.
July 24, 2019
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that there will be about 175,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in 2019. About one out of every nine (12%) men in general will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and that number rises to one in six (17%) for black or African American men specifically. Most often, prostate cancer happens sporadically, with no clear reason why the cancer started. However, sometimes prostate cancer can be seen running in a family in a hereditary manner, being passed down from generation to generation. Around 5-10% of prostate cancer diagnoses can be considered part of a hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome.
May 29, 2018
Although the terms “genetic” and “genomic” are often used interchangeably, they are actually very different. Learning more about the differences between them can help clear up some of the confusion we often see related to hereditary genes linked to developing cancer.
Genetics usually refers to the study of specific, individual genes and whether they are passed from one generation to the next. Cancer researchers have studied hereditary gene mutations (changes) that can play a role in the development of cancer.
By Mark T. Fleming, MD
Genetic testing for cancer and targeted drug therapy regimens have changed how multiple cancers, particularly breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancers are cared for. More and more, we are finding similar benefits in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
High-quality genetic testing now can accurately pinpoint both hereditary and somatic mutations, providing crucial insights into how prostate cancer develops and grows. At the same time, new medications tailored to specific mutations have shown great promise in clinical trials, especially in a metastatic disease that has not responded to standard androgen-deprivation therapy.
February 16, 2018
In 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled against one company owning the patent on genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Changes in these genes are associated with a high risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The ruling cited that human genes are not eligible for patents because they are a product of nature. Since this ruling, the world of cancer genetic testing has opened up both scientifically and financially.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, only one commercial laboratory was able to offer testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Since the patent has been overturned, multiple laboratories have started to offer testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 and from this, multigene cancer panels have emerged. Multigene cancer panels allow testing for many additional genes associated with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and various other cancers.