Our expert voices conversation on genetic testing for cancer.

Finding an inherited cancer risk gene can help prevent cancer and save lives. Carriers of mutations in certain genes need earlier and more frequent screening procedures (e.g. colonoscopy, mammogram) to catch a cancer in its early stages or even before it develops. In some cases, they have the option of preventive surgery. Carriers of certain mutations who have cancer themselves may benefit from treatments that specifically target the genetic mutation. The impact on one's family can be tremendous as well — they should be tested too once a mutation is found.

But genetic testing is not always black-and-white, and can create substantial uncertainty. For example, testing can detect genetic changes for which the associated cancer risk is entirely unknown. Acting on such uncertain results can lead to unnecessary surgeries, screening, and anxiety.

Bottom line: Undergoing genetic testing is a highly personal decision but should be considered by everyone who has had cancer or a family history of cancer.

The other voices in the conversation:

Theodora Ross, oncologist, UT Southwestern Medical Center: To test or not to test, that is the question

Jill Hagenkord, chief medical officer, Color: Preventive genomics has arrived

Charis Eng, geneticist, Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute: Genetic knowledge is power

Therese Bevers, prevention specialist, MD Anderson Cancer Center: What a cancer-risk assessment can tell you

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 18,364,694 — Total deaths: 695,848 — Total recoveries — 10,965,634Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 4,742,277 — Total deaths: 156,133 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. States: New York City health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response — New York ER doctor on pandemic advice: "We know what works"
  4. Public health: 59% of Americans support nationwide 2-week stay-at-home order in NPR poll Atrium Health CEO says "virtual hospital" has treated 13,000 COVID patients.
  5. Politics: Republicans push to expand small business loan program Trump tells "Axios on HBO" that pandemic is "under control," despite surges in infections.
  6. Sports: Indy 500 to be held without fansRafael Nadal opts out of U.S. Open.
Updated 20 mins ago - World

At least 25 killed, 3,000 injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: The cause of the explosion is unknown. Lebanon's health minister said in televised remarks that more than 30 people have been killed and over 3,000 injured.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

The U.S. is at risk of attacks in space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Other nations are catching up to U.S. capabilities in space, potentially putting American assets in orbit at risk.

Why it matters: From GPS to imagery satellites and others that can peer through clouds, space data is integral to American national security.