These 7 most common reasons to order genetic testing
SUMMARY: If your doctor wants to run genetic tests, you may be unsure of why. This article discusses the 7 most common reasons a doctor would order genetic testing.
If your doctor has told you he or she would like to run genetic tests, you may be unsure what this means or why such tests are needed.
Understanding basic terms
Genetics is the study of heredity in living things, meaning the study of how characteristics are passed from parents to their offspring. A gene is a unit of heredity that determines the traits that will be expressed in the offspring.
Genetic tests use laboratory methods to look at your genes, and typically are performed with minimal physical discomfort (such as a blood draw).
Reasons for genetic testing
Following are the seven common reasons a doctor would want to order a genetic test:
- Diagnose disease
- Determine a disease’s severity
- Identify changes in genes (called mutations) in an already diagnosed disease
- Identify mutations that could be passed on to children
- Identify mutations that can increase the risk of developing a disease
- Guide doctors in determining treatment
- Screening newborn babies for treatable conditions
Understanding test results
The results of genetic tests can be complex to understand and, depending on the disorder, may have implications for blood relations. Your doctor can explain results and implications to you or may suggest that you see a genetic counselor to help you fully understand your results.
FROM THE HHN EDITORS:
While genetic testing is rarely physically difficult, it can sometimes be a challenge emotionally and financially. If you are unsure about whether or not to be tested, consider finding a genetic counselor to answer your questions and address your concerns. The National Society of Genetic Counselors has created an online service to help you or your doctor find a genetic counselor in your area: NSGC Find a Genetic Counselor.