Genetic testing is a medical tool that estimates the chance of inheritable diseases (from parents or ancestors), conditions and cancers appearing in the body. Inheritable diseases are received at birth and passed down to each generation.
A genetic predisposition (genetic susceptibility) is the likelihood of developing a disease based on the specific genes inherited from parent to child. Such genetic variations passed on to the next generation can contribute to disease but do not cause it - this is why members of the same family either get the disease or do not.
Genetic testing can be done through blood, saliva and amniotic fluid tests. Such body fluids are simple and available meaning tests can be done at the location of the healthcare provider or primary care physician.
Two main reasons a person may choose to take a genetic test are when physical health symptoms begin to appear or to check for family history of a condition.
There are several benefits to genetic testing. If an individual would like to know whether they are at risk for a disease, genetic testing helps to find that answer. A genetic test predicts whether a disease will be passed on and become active. An early diagnosis of a disease or condition from a genetic test will ultimately result in a quicker treatment to the patient. Early detection can save lives and increase the patient’s overall quality of care.
Despite the several positives to genetic testing, there are also limitations. The genetic test must be paid for which may cause financial concern. In addition, mental health issues including anxiety or depression may occur after being diagnosed with a condition. If a test does come back positive, it is completely understandable to be nervous about telling family members.
Sandler, Sierra, et al. “The Importance of Preventative Medicine in Conjunction with Modern Day Genetic Studies.” Genes & Diseases, Chongqing Medical University, 12 Apr. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6146230/.
“What Does It Mean to Have a Genetic Predisposition to a Disease? - Genetics Home Reference - NIH.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/mutationsanddisorders/predisposition.