Thanks to scientific advances in the field of genetics, hereditary cancer panel testing is now available. Understanding your risk for developing certain types of cancers will help you make informed decisions to support your health and will also give your doctors valuable insights to help develop the best screening and care plan for your individual needs.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how hereditary cancer panel testing works, what the test can reveal about your genetic makeup, and how that information can help you make informed decisions to maximize your health and overall quality of life.
What Is Hereditary Cancer Panel Testing?
Hereditary cancer panel testing is a molecular screening that assesses a patient’s hereditary predisposition to certain types of cancer. By analyzing a blood sample taken from the patient, clinicians can screen a patient’s DNA for specific gene mutations that have been linked to various types of cancer. Knowing if a patient is at higher risk for certain types of cancer allows doctors to take preventative measures early and empowers patients to make informed decisions about their care.
Who Is the Test For?
If you meet one or more of the following criteria, you could benefit from hereditary cancer panel testing.
- You or a close genetic relative* have already been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer (including two cancers in different parts of the body, or two types of cancer within the same area or organ)
- You or a close genetic relative have been diagnosed with a rare cancer type
- You have more than one close genetic relative who was diagnosed with cancer before age 50
- You have a close genetic relative who developed cancer in each organ of a set of paired organs (such as both breasts or both kidneys)
- There is a history of cancer prevalence within your ethnic group
- You have previously had targeted genetic testing and are interested in an expanded panel
- You have had at least ten colorectal polyps (typically found during colonoscopies)
- You have any Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
- You have a close genetic relative who has had hereditary cancer panel testing that showed a mutation in any of the genes analyzed
* Close genetic relatives include biological parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
Can Hereditary Cancer Panel Testing Tell Me If I Will Get Cancer?
Hereditary cancer panel testing can reveal a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer, but this is not a guarantee that you will get cancer. Only 5% to 10% of all cancers are considered hereditary cancers. Another 10% to 30% are considered familial. The remaining 60% to 85% are sporadic cancers, meaning that they are not connected to genetics or ancestry, but believed to be caused by environmental toxins, diet, hormone imbalances, cell damage caused by free radicals, and other factors.
What Are the Benefits of Hereditary Cancer Panel Testing?
Understanding your particular area of risk, if one exists, will empower you to make informed decisions. If your screening does detect a genetic mutation associated with cancer, there are actions you can take to reduce your likelihood of developing cancer, including regular screenings, preventative medications, enacting certain lifestyle changes, or undergoing surgery.
For example, if your hereditary cancer panel testing were to reveal a higher risk of ovarian cancer, options available to you would include taking oral contraceptives (which may reduce your risk for developing cancer by up to 50%) or having a hysterectomy. Hereditary cancer panel testing can be particularly beneficial in the case of cancer types such as ovarian, where early detection is difficult. Positive hereditary cancer panel testing results may also qualify you for certain clinical trials and cutting-edge treatments.
In addition, hereditary cancer panel testing can identify other relatives in your family tree that may be at higher risk. This information will help those family members make informed decisions about their own care and screenings, too.
What Is the Turnaround Time for Hereditary Cancer Panel Testing?
The turnaround time for hereditary cancer panel testing is typically between 21 to 28 days. Once your results become available, you may need to meet with a genetic counselor to go over your results, so that they can answer any questions and provide guidance regarding your available options.
What Are the Specimen Requirements?
Depending on which gene mutations and cancer types you wish to be screened for, the sample specimen required will consist of a buccal sample (saliva), small blood sample, or both.
What Are the Associated Cancers?
Hereditary cancer panel testing can test for gene mutations associated with the following types of cancer and diseases:
- Breast cancer
- Gastric cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Lynch syndrome
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Nijmegen breakage syndrome
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Fanconi anemia
- Cowden and Cowden-like syndrome
The specific genes that hereditary cancer panel testing analyzes include the following:
Book a consultation at Aspire Regenerative to learn more about hereditary cancer panel testing in San Diego. Our doctors will be able to help you determine if this test is right for you and develop a personalized care plan based on your results.