Hereditary Cancer DNA Results

What does a Negative result of a hereditary cancer DNA assessment mean?

A negative result means that no mutations, or genetic changes associated with an increased risk of the most common hereditary cancers, were identified in the genes that were analyzed. This result does not eliminate your risk of developing cancer. You may still be at increased risk of cancer due to other factors, mutations not detected by current technology, or mutations in other genes.

 

Does this result mean I’m not at risk of cancer?

No, the absence of mutations does not mean that you will not develop cancer. Cancer risk is also influenced by factors such as family history, environment, lifestyle, and random chance. In addition, not all of the genes related to hereditary cancer are known or included on the DNA assessment. You should continue to follow the screening and prevention advice of your healthcare team or schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor if you have questions.  

 

Who will see these DNA assessment results?

Your results are available to you and the healthcare provider who ordered your DNA assessment, as well as any additional healthcare providers you designate your healthcare provider who ordered the DNA assessment to share them with. Your results will not be sent by the lab to your employer, or any other healthcare provider without your explicit request.   

 

Should I review my results with my healthcare provider?

Yes, it is recommended you make an appointment to review your results with your provider. Reviewing your results allows your provider to guide you to appropriate resources and discuss tailored options based on your results.

 

What else can cause cancer besides gene mutations?

Most cancers are sporadic, meaning they do not seem to run in the family. Sporadic cancers are likely influenced by a combination of many factors, including age, sex, environment, and even random chance. Some families have more cancer than expected, but without a known genetic mutation or other single explanation. This is called familial cancer. Several risk factors have been associated with familial cancer, including family history, environmental exposures, and lifestyle factors.

 

What do my results mean to my relatives and do any of them need to consider a DNA assessment? Though you do not carry a mutation associated with hereditary cancer, it is possible that your relatives have one that you did not inherit. The only way for them to know whether or not they have such a mutation is for them to undergo a DNA assessment. A hereditary cancer DNA assessment can be particularly informative for individuals in the family who have been diagnosed with cancer. Please schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor for specific recommendations about DNA assessments tailored to your family.

 

What does a Positive result of a hereditary cancer DNA assessment mean?

This result does not mean that you have cancer or that you will develop cancer in your lifetime.  Rather, a positive result means that a mutation, or a genetic change, was identified in a specific gene that increases the lifetime chance of developing certain cancers. Your personal results contain more detailed risk information specific to the mutation identified in your genes.

 

Who will see these DNA assessment results?

Your results are available to you and the healthcare provider who ordered your DNA assessment, as well as any additional healthcare providers you designate your healthcare provider who ordered the DNA assessment to share them with. Your results will not be sent by the lab to your employer, or any other healthcare provider without your explicit request.   

 

Should I review my results with my healthcare provider?

The lab recommends you make an appointment to review your results with your provider. Reviewing your results allows your provider to guide you to appropriate resources and discuss tailored options based on your results.

 

Are there any protections against discrimination based on these results?

In 2008, a federal law called the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) was passed. Under the terms of GINA, medical insurance companies and employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of genetic information. GINA defines genetic information as including not only genetic test results, but also family cancer history, and the fact that genetic testing occurred. The terms of GINA specify that insurance companies cannot raise rates, cancel a plan, or determine eligibility because of genetic testing. Employers also are prohibited from making hiring, firing, or promotion decisions based on genetic testing. The terms of GINA carry exceptions. For example, an exception might include employers with fewer than 15 employees and those with military insurance. Additionally, GINA does not extend to life, disability, or long-term insurance companies. Some states may have protections regarding discrimination from these types of insurance. 

 

If there is no one in my family who had cancer, do I still have an increased risk?

Yes. This result means your chance of developing certain cancers over your lifetime is higher than that of an average person your age, regardless of your family history. Please see the graph under “catching cancer is critical”. We encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider and to schedule an appointment with a board-certified genetic counselor.

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