If cancer is diagnosed in a close relative, especially if it is of an uncommon type
or occurs at a younger than usual age, the cancer is more likely to be caused by a
family cancer syndrome. It then may be desirable to carry out genetic testing to
look for gene mutations that might put a person at heightened risk of getting cancer
and other diseases. A negative result may help relieve anxiety or uncertainty. A
positive result can help a person decide to undertake preventive measures. This
might include taking medicines (chemoprevention), preventive (prophylactic) surgery,
lifestyle changes, increased awareness of cancer signs and symptoms, and
possibly earlier, more extensive and more frequent screening so as to find disease
earlier, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

The American Cancer Society cautions about genetic testing: “The test can tell what
might happen, but it cannot tell what will happen. On the other hand, a negative result
does not mean you have no risk of getting the disease… A positive genetic test
result can also affect other family members. More family members may need to be
tested. Sometimes family secrets are revealed as a result – paternity, adoptions, or
other difficult issues may come up. Having a gene or passing a gene on to children
can bring out feelings of guilt or anger.”

The issue of privacy may be a concern in that employers and insurance companies
might get and use genetic information to discriminate against a person by not hiring
or promoting them. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) law
forbids most employers from doing this. GINA also bars health insurers from turning
down people or charging higher premiums for health insurance based on genetic
information or the use of genetic counseling and testing. The law also bars these
insurers from asking for or requiring genetic tests.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.