Genetic Testing and Counseling
Life is filled with uncertainties. Luckily, your predisposition to certain medical conditions doesn’t have to be among them. Timeless Wellness Clinic in Pleasanton, CA, offers compassionate and holistic preventative care options so you can live life to its fullest. For many people, this will include the option for genetic testing to help gauge your risk of developing certain medical conditions, such as some forms of cancer.
What Is Genetic Testing and Counseling?
At their most basic level, genetic tests seek to find changes within genes that are linked with certain medical conditions. They can be a helpful tool for medical professionals looking to make informed decisions about care options. As such, it is always a good idea to discuss whether genetic counseling and testing are appropriate for your situation.
Different Types of Genetic Tests
Like many other types of diagnostic procedures, various tests can be performed. Understanding what each one is best suited for can help guide your decisions.
Single Gene Testing
This type of test looks for mutations within a single gene. It is commonly done when a genetic condition is suspected. It may also be used if there is a known family history of a specific genetic disorder.
Some patients will benefit from a broader search, and panel testing often fits that bill. It can be done in a couple of ways, depending on the reason for testing. For example, trait-specific testing looks at genes that are directly related to specific traits, such as poor muscle tone or seizures. Other panels are set up to look for genes associated with an increased risk of developing a particular type of cancer, such as breast cancer.
Large-scale Genetic or Genomic Testing
Individuals with complex medical histories or wide-ranging symptoms may benefit from testing that is even larger in scale. These wide-ranging tests are also often used in research studies to help identify mutations associated with specific diseases.
Two main types of large-scale genetic tests can be ordered, known as exome sequencing and genome sequencing. Depending on why the tests are ordered, you could benefit from one offer the other.
How Is the Testing Done?
The patient process for having testing done is relatively straightforward. First, a sample is collected through a saliva/mouth swab or by drawing blood. Your medical provider will discuss the exact process she uses when you discuss whether testing options. The sample is then sent to the lab for processing.
Results from genetic tests can take some time for a full set of results to be returned. In many cases, however, you should receive answers within a few weeks of the test.
What Do the Results Mean?
When the testing is completed, your doctor will go over the results with you. This is an essential part of the process because they are sometimes ambiguous and can be confusing to a layperson. You might receive one of these three results for your tests.
This is relatively clear. It means that the mutation in question is present in your genetic code. However, it is not a diagnosis of confirmed disease or a guarantee you will develop a certain condition.
The meaning of a negative result can be a little trickier to understand. It could indicate that the specific mutation searched for wasn’t present but that you have another genetic condition. On the other hand, in cases where there is a known mutation within a family, a negative is usually a fairly clear sign that you will not develop the condition in question.
Unfortunately, there are times when a test result will come back labeled unclear. This usually means that the mutation found isn’t understood well enough to know if it is cause for concern.
No matter how impatient you are, it is best to wait to discuss any results that come in with your doctor before jumping to conclusions. In many cases, she will be able to clear up any confusion surrounding results and go over the best way to proceed with your care.
Why Would I Seek Genetic Counseling?
People seek out genetic counseling and testing for various reasons. Most often, it is associated with concern for future health, whether your own or that of a family member. Consider how it can help with these situations.
To Help With Planning or Managing a Pregnancy
If you are planning to get pregnant, but there is a known genetic mutation in your family, it can be a good idea to speak with a counselor. They can order testing and help you assess risks based on your and your partner’s results.
You Have a Child With a Genetic Condition
Many childhood illnesses result from genetic mutations. When a child is sick, a doctor may suspect a genetic condition and order testing.
To Better Manage Your Own Health and Risks
Individuals with a family history of certain types of cancers may opt for genetic testing to determine their own risks. The results can help guide preventive care decisions.
Who Should Have Testing Performed?
While more and more people are turning to the field of genetics for answers about their personal health, not everyone needs comprehensive testing and counseling performed. However, if you identify with one or more of the following statements, it may be time to discuss your options with your health care provider:
- You have a family history of genetic disorders
- You are planning a pregnancy
- You have reasons to suspect you have a genetic condition
- You were recently diagnosed with a genetic disorder
While many people might choose to have gene testing done, it is not for everyone. For example, if the results will not change the outcome of your illness, the high cost of tests will present a financial burden, or the fear of knowing about an existing mutation will lead to excess anxiety, you may choose to forgo testing.
Take the Next Steps To Uncovering Better Health
If you are ready to learn more about how genetics affect your overall health, we can help. Our compassionate care team will guide you through the process of testing and counseling for genetic conditions. Contact Timeless Wellness Clinic in Pleasanton, CA, today to schedule your consultation.