Genetic Testing: What You Need to Know

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What are the benefits of genetic testing?

The obvious benefit of genetic testing is the chance for a better understanding of your risk for a certain disease. Testing is not perfect, but it can often help you make decisions about your health.

A negative result on a genetic test in families at risk for a specific cancer may help relieve anxiety or uncertainty. In the same way, a positive result can help you make important decisions about your future, perhaps including things you can do to help lower your risk. A positive result may also lead to finding disease earlier, when treatment is more likely to be helpful.

For people already diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing of the tumor can often help determine the prognosis (outlook), and can sometimes even help in deciding which treatments will most likely work.

As scientists learn more about the genes that contribute to cancer, genetic testing will probably become more helpful in learning about a person’s cancer risk.


Last Medical Review: 10/18/2013
Last Revised: 10/18/2013