FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GENOMIC RISK ASSESSMENT FOR HEREDITARY MALIGNANCIES (CANCERS)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GENOMIC RISK ASSESSMENT FOR HEREDITARY MALIGNANCIES (CANCERS)

  1. 1
    ARE ALL CANCERS INHERITED?
    • No, the majority of cancer occurs by chance. Only approximately 5-10% is due to a specific hereditary genetic fault (mutation).
  2. 2
    WHY WOULD I WANT TO KNOW IF I AM AT INCREASED RISK OF CANCER?
    • Increased cancer screening is often available, which aims to detect cancer at an earlier more treatable stage.
    • Medications may also be available to lower your risk of cancer. For example; Tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer, aspirin lowers the risk of bowel cancer, and the combined oral contraceptive pill lowers the risk of ovarian cancer. However, these medications have side effects, and you should talk to a doctor before taking them. In some situations, surgery may be available to lower the risk of cancer. Lifestyle changes such as; changes to diet, increasing exercise and stopping smoking can also reduce the risk of cancer.
  3. 3
    HOW DOES GENETIC TESTING WORK?
    •  Genetic testing looks at the DNA code for a specific gene or genes known to be associated with cancer. It provides information about the gene(s), which are analysed and is usually performed on a blood or saliva sample. Results are generally available in 4-8 weeks. There are several different types of testing available, including:
    • Diagnostic testing attempts to find the possible cause of cancer within the family and is best performed on someone who has had cancer. There are three possible results:
    • Normal. This means no disease-causing mutation is found. There may still be an increased risk of cancer, and increased screening may still be recommended.
    • Positive. A known cancer-causing mutation is found. Cancer screening can be targeted, and relatives can have testing for this mutation.
    • Inconclusive. A variant of unknown significance is found. This means the laboratory has found a change in the gene that they cannot interpret. i.e. the result is inconclusive. Cancer screening will be based on the family history.
    • Predictive testing. When the familial mutation is known, it is possible to give relatives a definitive answer:
    • If the mutation is not present, there is no increased risk of cancer.
    • If the mutation is found, the individual has an increased risk of cancer. Increased cancer screening and risk-reducing options may be helpful.
  4. 4
    SHOULD I HAVE GENETIC CANCER TESTING?

    If any of the following are true of your family, you may be at an increased risk of hereditary cancer and genetic testing may be of benefit;

    • Several relatives with the same type of cancer
    • Relatives diagnosed at particularly young ages (usually before age 50)
    • Several affected generations
    • Individuals who have been diagnosed with multiple cancers
  5. 5
    I HAVE ALREADY HAD CANCER. WHY WOULD I WANT GENETIC CANCER TESTING?
    •  Depending on the results, genetic testing may help determine the best type of surgery and chemotherapy for you.  Also, genetic testing can help determine your risk of cancer in future as well as ways to reduce your risk and appropriate cancer screening. risk-reducing cancer testing can also give your relatives and children information about their cancer risk.
  6. 6
    I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, BUT I AM NOT SURE I WANT GENETIC CANCER TESTING.
    • One of our Genomic Medicine Consultants would be happy to provide you with a genetic cancer risk assessment and answer any questions that you have.
  7. 7
    WHAT IS A GENOMIC MEDICINE CONSULTATION?
    • Genomic Medicine Consultants are uniquely trained individuals who specialise in helping individuals and their families understand and manage their risk of inherited cancer.
  8. 8
    WHAT WILL A GENOMIC MEDICINE CONSULTANT DO?

    A genomic medicine consultant will:

    • Ask you about your medical and family history of cancer
    • Explain how hereditary cancers are passed on in a family
    • Determine if you/your family members are at risk for a hereditary cancer syndrome
    • Give you information about inherited cancer syndromes
    • Discuss cancer screening
    • Provide information about genetic testing
    • Allow you to make an informed decision on whether genetic testing is right for you
  9. 9
    DO I NEED A REFERRAL FOR GENETIC CANCER TESTING?
    •  No, you do not normally need a referral.
  10. 10
    WILL YOU TELL MY DOCTOR I’VE HAD GENETIC CANCER TESTING?
    • Only if you want us to. At Genomic Medicine UK we are very careful about your privacy and will only share information if you ask us to. If you do ask us, we are always happy to ensure your doctors are fully aware of any genetic cancer testing that has taken place and of any cancer screening recommendations.
  11. 11
    I HAVE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE WILL THIS COVER GENETIC CANCER TESTING?
    • Most insurance companies will cover genetic testing if you have been diagnosed with cancer and have a 10% risk of having a genetic mutation.
  12. 12
    ARE YOUR GENETIC CANCER TESTS THE SAME AS THE ONES OFFERED BY THE NHS?
    • Our BRCA1 & BRCA2 genetic cancer tests are the same tests as those offered through the NHS. Our other panels for genomic risk assessment for hereditary cancers are more comprehensive and not normally available through the NHS.
KNOWLEDGE BASE
About Genomic Medicine UK

Genomic Medicine UK is the home of comprehensive genomic testing in London. Our consultant medical doctors work tirelessly to provide the highest standards of medical laboratory testing for personalised medical treatments, genomic risk assessments for common diseases and genomic risk assessment for cancers at an affordable cost for everybody. We use state-of-the-art modern technologies of next-generation sequencing and DNA chip microarray to provide all of our patients and partner doctors with a reliable, evidence-based, thorough and valuable medical service.

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