Cancer Genetic Testing for those 65+
Clear Bridge Biomedics offers at-home cancer genetic testing for patients 65 and older. When you order this test, we will send the testing kit directly to your doorstep. Simply follow the instructions included in the kit and perform a cheek swab. Then package up your genetic sample and return it by mail to our lab. A team of expert medical scientists will test your sample for the relevant genes and return the results to you and your medical professional as soon as possible.
What is Cancer Genetic Testing?
Cancer genetic testing is a way for doctors to examine someone’s genetic makeup to discover the root cause of a family disease. There are several different kinds of cancer genetic tests available, including those for breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancers, and colorectal cancers.
Everything in our body is controlled by little bundles of information called genes. When one of those bundles changes (called a mutation), it can cause diseases to present themselves in a person. Because parents can pass their genes down to their children, these genetically linked diseases often can be seen running in families. This is why some diseases and cancers can pass from generation to generation. If you are concerned about your risk for familial cancers, order a genetic test today.
This test can also help doctors determine who might be most at risk for getting the same genetic disease. Once one member is determined to carry a mutated gene, doctors often recommend other closely related members of the family get tested to identify who carries the gene and who will be most affected by it. If someone else shows the gene, the next closest family members will also get tested. Ideally, this cascade continues until the family doctors have a clear view of who does have the possibility of developing the disease, who simply carries the gene but will not likely ever get sick, and who does not possess the mutated gene. This process is called cascade genetic testing and is very common in genetic cancer testing.
What are Genetic Cancers?
A genetic cancer is simply a type of cancer, like breast cancer, that is caused by a mutation in someone’s genes. Many cancers can be genetic and can be passed from parent to child. These diseases are not infectious, so they cannot be passed from person to person outside of the parent-child relationship.
Having a mutated gene does not guarantee that someone will develop a genetic disease. Having a mutated gene simply means that someone is much more likely than the average person to develop the condition. There are several reasons someone can develop a type of cancer. Some reasons are environmental, like someone’s sun exposure or nutrition. Mutated genetics only increases risk for those factors, as well as gives a chance that the person develops cancer without much environmental prompting. As an example, the average person might have a 10% chance to develop cancer when experiencing some level of environmental pressure. A person whose genes are mutated might have a 60% chance to cause the person to develop the disease under the same exact circumstances. In addition, someone with an abnormal genetic makeup might develop the cancer without any environmental factors.
Breast Cancer and Genetics
Experts believe that 5-10% of all breast cancers are primarily caused by genetic mutations. These mutations occur in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes are primarily responsible for keeping breast and ovarian cells functioning normally, aiding in cell reproduction and repair. When these genes mutate, however, they can cause the cells they influence to act abnormally, developing breast cancer. Often, when there is a family history of breast cancer, mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are to blame. Because these genes can be passed from mother to child, so can a predisposition for breast cancer to form.
Prostate Cancer and Genetics
Recent studies have estimated that almost 50% of American men carry a gene variant that can increase their risk of developing prostate cancer. Genes have a capacity to change a certain amount and still work correctly. These changes are not mutations, which are exclusively harmful, but rather variations that are not inherently harmful, just potentially risky in certain situations. These prostate-risky gene variants can be passed down from parent to child, increasing the child’s susceptibility to prostate cancer. Our cancer genetic test will not only help identify harmful mutations but also any gene variants that can cause someone to be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Colorectal Cancer and Genetics
Some colorectal cancers can be caused by a mutation in the APC gene. This gene is a tumor suppressor gene. This means that the APC gene is responsible for keeping cell division and death regular, preventing an overgrowth of cells and cancer. Other types of mutations can affect Oncogenes, which are genes that tell cells when and how much to divide. When oncogenes mutate, they start to multiply at an abnormal rate, leading to cancer.
Who should get a Cancer Genetic Test?
If you or a loved one have suffered from cancer and are concerned about close family members developing the disease, we recommend you take an at-home cancer genetic test. This can help determine if the patient has a predisposition for genetic cancers that you can pass on to children. Additionally, if you are experiencing symptoms of cancer such as memory loss, cognitive impairment, or strange changes in mood and personality, you might consider ordering a genetic test as well.
Cancer Genetic Testing FAQ
If I test positive, does that mean I have a Type of Cancer?
Not necessarily, just that you are at a higher risk for developing cancer. There are several reasons someone can develop a type of cancer. Some reasons are environmental, like someone’s sun exposure or nutrition. Mutated genetics only increases risk for those factors, as well as gives a chance that the person develops cancer without much environmental prompting. As an example, the average person might have a 10% chance to develop cancer when experiencing some level of environmental pressure. A person whose genes are mutated might have a 60% chance to cause the person to develop the disease under the same exact circumstances. In addition, someone with an abnormal genetic makeup might develop the cancer without any environmental factors.
This is why knowing what your genes say about your body is so important!
Is there any way I can keep from getting cancer if I have the genetic mutation but no symptoms?
Yes, there often are steps you can take to prevent yourself from getting different cancers, even if you have the genetic markers for them! None of these recommendations are guaranteed. If you have the mutation, there is always a chance you simply just develop the disease, but following these steps might lessen the effects and make your body stronger. First, always ask your doctor for information on how to prevent cancer in your own life. They will have more specific recommendations for your personal situation. Second, often a healthy diet greatly benefits any patient with or concerned about cancer. Additionally, ceasing the use of tobacco, smoking, and non-prescribed drugs reduces risk of all cancers significantly compared to the use of each of these chemicals. Third, you might consider light exercise and other heart healthy physical habits to strengthen circulation and overall physical health.
How do I know what my results are?
You will have your results returned to you when the test is concluded at Clear Bridge Biomedics, but you might not know what to do with them. Most experts recommend contacting a genetic counselor before, during, and after your decision to take a genetic test for a couple of reasons. 1) While there are no inherent physical risks to genetic tests, you may not actually want to know the results. The choice to know is sometimes a difficult one and should be considered thoroughly. 2) Genetic information is very complicated and not easily understood by the average person looking at a results spreadsheet. Genetic counselors help everyday people interpret the results in helpful and relevant ways, leading to informed medical decisions.