Ask the Doctor: Genetic Testing - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Ask the Doctor: Genetic Testing

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It's what makes us all unique - our genes. Have you ever considered testing yours - specifically for an inherited gene mutation? You can learn more in our Ask the Doctor segment.

Dr. Nathan Slotnik is a medical geneticist with Renown Institute for Cancer.  If you have a question for him, call 858-2222 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

1) WHAT IS GENETIC TESTING?
Cancer sometimes appears to "run in families" - even if it is not caused by an inherited mutation. For example, lifestyle - such as tobacco use - can cause similar cancers to develop among family members. However, certain types of cancer that develop, other non-cancer conditions that are seen, and the ages at which cancer typically develops—may suggest the presence of a hereditary cancer syndrome. That's what genetic testing can help determine.

2) IF SOMEONE FINDS OUT THEY'RE PRE-DISPOSED TO A CANCER MUTATION - IS IT CERTAIN THEY'LL GET CANCER?
No. Even if a cancer-predisposing mutation is present in a family, it does not necessarily mean that everyone who inherits the mutation will develop cancer. Several factors influence the outcome - like life-style and environment.

3) WHAT GENETIC TESTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR CANCER RISK?
There are more than 50 hereditary cancer syndromes. The most common is the BRCA test - for hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer syndrome.

4) WHO SHOULD CONSIDER GENETIC TESTING FOR CANCER RISK?
Perhaps a person with a family history that suggests an inherited cancer risk condition. It's advised they seek genetic counseling, too, and come up with a plan to move forward once you have accurate results from a doctor.

5) HOW IS GENETIC TESTING DONE.. AND WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE INFORMATION ONCE YOU HAVE IT?
Testing is done on a small sample of body fluid or tissue—usually blood, but sometimes saliva, cells from inside the cheek, skin cells, or amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding a developing fetus). The sample is then sent to a laboratory that specializes in genetic testing. It usually takes several weeks or longer to get the test results. Genetic counseling is recommended both before and after genetic testing to make sure that patients have accurate information about what a particular genetic test means for their health and care.

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