How to Decide

Whether or not to pursue any genetic testing is a very personal decision. In some cases, moving forward with genetic testing may help to provide an answer to a health question that is running in someone’s family, or may help to provide a name to a medical condition that someone is having signs and symptoms of. Depending on the type of testing done, the results of may also be beneficial for other family members to determine if they are also at risk.

  • An example of this may be a woman who has previously had breast cancer who would like to have genetic testing to find out if she is at increased risk for other types of cancer, but also to provide information to her children, who may also be at an increased risk for cancer.

In other situations, the potential information that comes with genetic testing may be information that someone does not want to know.

  • An example of this may be a man who has a family history of Huntington’s disease, a rare condition that affects everything from someone’s mental function to behavior to their ability to get around on their own. Huntington’s runs in families, so if his father had it, there is a 50% chance that he will also have it. Testing positive for Huntington’s disease will let someone know that they have it and will ultimately develop the signs and symptoms, but there is no way to treat it. Some people who are at risk for conditions like Huntington’s would not like to know if they have it ahead of time because it would cause them much stress and anxiety, and they don’t feel like there’s anything productive they can do with that information.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether or not to pursue genetic testing; it is a personal choice. Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals that have special training in genetics. They can help to make sure that you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision that is right for your personal beliefs, and are also there to help support you in that decision.

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Last updated on Dec 22nd, 2017