For those considering genetic testing, here is a list of frequently asked questions.
- I have a family history of cancer. Why should I get tested?
Testing for a hereditary cancer risk helps you and your healthcare professional understand your risk so you can make the best choices for preventive care. Knowing your family history is an important first step, but testing can give you a more accurate picture of your risk.
- Is testing recommended for everyone?
While testing is the most accurate way to determine the risk of hereditary cancer, only people who have cancer in their family or a personal history of the disease need to be tested. If you have had cancer and/or cancer runs in your family, let your healthcare professional know.
- How long does it take to get the test results?
Your healthcare professional will let you know your test results as soon as they are available, which may be as soon as two weeks from the date your test is performed.
- Does a positive test result mean that I have cancer?
No. Genetic testing does not tell you if you currently have cancer. Your test results will tell you about your inherited risk of developing cancer in the future.
- Does a positive test result mean that I will definitely develop cancer?
No. A positive test result simply tells you that you have an increased risk of cancer.
- What can I expect during the testing process?
The process is simple and easy for you. You will need to provide a small sample of either blood or saliva for the test. The sample is taken at your doctor’s office, and is sent directly to a laboratory to be processed. The test findings will be sent to your doctor in two to three weeks, and you will have a follow-up appointment to discuss the results.
- Will my insurance cover the cost of testing?
Probably. Most insurance carriers cover genetic testing services for hereditary cancer. In fact, although each situation is unique, the average patient pays coinsurance of less than 10% of the test price.
- Can my health insurance coverage be affected, depending on my test results?
Federal laws (HIPAA and GINA) and laws in most states prohibit discrimination regarding employment eligibility, health benefits, or health insurance premiums based solely on genetic information.
- How can I get more information about hereditary cancer risk assessment and genetic testing?
Your healthcare provider is always your best resource for information. He or she can help you make informed decisions about your needs.