Genetic testing can be arranged direct to the consumer (DTC), but because the science is advancing so rapidly it is recommended by the National Genome Research Institute to discuss the testing process first with a qualified medical specialist or appropriate genetics counsellor. As in any market, there are many companies seeking to meet the emerging demand by providing testing services, and the quality plus levels of accreditation of these providers will vary.
It is especially important for people with a family history of cancer, or concerned about cancer to specifically seek advice from an accredited oncology genetics expert.
How the latest genetic tests can be used:
Diagnosing carrier status
A carrier of a gene may not get the disease, but they can pass the altered gene onto their children
To discover whether an unborn child will have a gene-related condition.
Diagnosing inherited dispositions
To test for the presence of inherited dispositions prior to the onset of symptoms
To determine personalised drug therapies
If a known alteration causing disease is not present in a person, this can naturally can provide a sense of relief.
A positive test for a disease-causing gene alteration can encourage people to take steps to reduce the chance of developing a disease. Proactive testing can reduce feelings of uncertainty and enable informed decision making around both health and lifestyle.
To confirm a diagnosis prior to the development of any signs or symptoms that suggest a genetic disease.
To test whether you have an increased probability of a disease prior to symptoms. For example, testing for diseases that may ocurr later in life such as colon or breast cancer or adult onset (Type 2) diabetes.
This is a type of predictive testing that can indicate which family members are at risk for a certain genetic condition already known to be present in their family. This approach may be applicable for conditions such as Huntington's disease or autoimmune Graves' disease.
Ensuring Approved Testing Systems and that the Laboratory is Thoroughly Regulated
London genetics testing expert, Dr James Mackay says, "Although genetic testing is becoming increasingly commonplace, mosts tests are still not regulated and can go to market without independent analysis to test the claims of the manufacturers." Dr Mackay warns, "For example, the FDA in America has to date only regulated a small number of genetic tests sold to labs as diagnostic kits. This means that new tests have not always been examined to ensure that they are clinically meaningful. We are still therefore in a situation where the regulation is catching up with the science (and vice versa!) and this factor has to be taken into consideration when asking what tests can be perforrmed in the clinical setting."
Click here to arrange approved medical-led, genetic testing via accredited laboroatories.
For further information: National Genome Research Institure