Unraveling the Secrets of Your DNA: The Importance of Hereditary Genetic Testing


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding our genetic makeup and how it can influence our overall health. One area that has received particular attention is hereditary genetic testing for cancer and other diseases. As our understanding of genetics has improved, so has our ability to assess an individual's risk of developing certain health conditions. By examining your DNA, hereditary genetic testing can determine if you carry gene mutations that could increase your risk of developing certain cancers or other hereditary diseases. We will delve into the importance of hereditary genetic testing, the benefits it can provide, and how it can empower you to take control of your health.

Understanding Hereditary Genetic Testing

Hereditary genetic testing is a process that analyzes an individual's DNA to identify potential genetic mutations or variations associated with an increased risk of developing certain health conditions. These tests can help identify your risk for hereditary diseases, including genetic cancer, and provide valuable information for you, your family, and your healthcare providers.

There are various types of genetic testing for hereditary diseases, including:

1. Genetic testing for cancer
This testing focuses on identifying gene mutations that increase your risk of developing different types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer.

2. Hereditary cancer test
A hereditary cancer test is a specific type of genetic testing for cancer that targets mutations linked to hereditary cancer syndromes, like Lynch syndrome, BRCA1, and BRCA2 mutations.

3. Hereditary genetic cancer testing
This comprehensive testing approach examines multiple genes associated with hereditary cancers to provide a more detailed picture of your risk factors.

4. Genetic testing for other hereditary diseases
Apart from cancer, genetic testing can also identify your risk of developing other hereditary diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or Huntington's disease.

The Benefits of Hereditary Genetic Testing

Hereditary genetic testing can provide numerous benefits for individuals and their families, including:

1. Early detection and prevention
By identifying your risk of developing genetic cancer or other hereditary diseases, you can take proactive steps towards prevention, such as more frequent screenings, adopting a healthier lifestyle, or even considering prophylactic surgeries.

2. Tailored treatment options
If you have already been diagnosed with genetic cancer or hereditary disease, knowing the specific gene mutations can help your healthcare team personalize your treatment plan, improving its effectiveness and minimizing potential side effects.

3. Informed family planning
For couples planning to have children, hereditary genetic testing can help determine the risk of passing on genetic mutations to their offspring, guiding family planning and reproductive decisions.

4. Support and resources
Being aware of your genetic risk factors can connect you with support groups, advocacy organizations, and other resources specifically tailored to individuals and families facing similar challenges.

5. Empowerment
Ultimately, hereditary genetic testing provides you with the knowledge and tools to take control of your health and make informed decisions about your future.

What to Expect

If you're considering hereditary genetic cancer testing or testing for other hereditary diseases, the first step is to talk with a healthcare professional, such as a genetic counselor. They can help determine if testing is appropriate for you and guide you through the process.

1. Pre-Test Counseling
Before undergoing genetic testing, you'll typically meet with a genetic counselor who will help assess your personal and family history of cancer or other hereditary diseases. They will explain the testing process, potential outcomes, benefits, and limitations, and address any concerns or questions you may have.

2. Sample Collection
Hereditary genetic testing usually involves providing a blood or saliva sample. The sample is then sent to a specialized laboratory for analysis.

3. Results and Post-Test Counseling
Once your test results are available, you'll meet with the genetic counselor again to discuss the findings. They will help interpret the results and provide guidance on what they mean for you and your family. If a mutation is identified, the counselor can discuss appropriate next steps, including preventive measures, additional testing, and sharing the information with family members.

4. Ongoing Support
After receiving your genetic test results, you may need ongoing support and resources to help you navigate the implications of the findings. Your healthcare team, including your genetic counselor, can provide valuable guidance and direct you to additional resources, such as support groups, educational materials, and online communities.


The importance of hereditary genetic testing cannot be overstated. By understanding your genetic risk factors for cancer and other hereditary diseases, you can take proactive steps to manage your health and improve your chances of early detection and successful treatment. Furthermore, sharing your results with close family members can empower them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

While genetic testing can provide valuable information, it's important to remember that having a genetic mutation does not guarantee that you will develop cancer or another hereditary disease. Likewise, not having a mutation does not guarantee that you won't. Environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and random genetic changes can still play a role in the development of these conditions.

If you're considering hereditary genetic testing, speak with your healthcare professional or genetic counselor and ask if our cancer screening series, GeneticsNow®, can be beneficial for you. Our panels include tests for prostate cancer, breast and ovarian cancer, Lynch syndrome, and a comprehensive analysis of most hereditary cancers and diseases. By taking control of your health and understanding your genetic risks, you can make informed decisions and take proactive steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.