Our expert voices conversation on genetic testing for cancer.
Genetic testing used to be very expensive, and so was done infrequently and judiciously. But advances in DNA sequencing technology now let us evaluate hundreds of genes for a fraction of what it used to cost to sequence just one.
The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics has identified a list of genes associated with preventable adult-onset cancer syndromes. Each of these conditions has well-established, evidence-based guidelines for creating surveillance and treatment plans that your physician can use to guide preventive management.
Bottom line: We've long known that 5-10% of cancers derive from DNA mutations we inherit. These cancers tend to occur at an earlier age and affect multiple organs. If we could look at everyone's DNA, we would know who is silently carrying one of these misspellings and take steps to prevent them from developing the disease.
The other voices in the conversation:
- Theodora Ross, oncologist, UT Southwestern Medical Center: To test or not to test, that is the question
- 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
- Sapna Syngal, geneticist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Genetic testing doesn't always mean more certainty