The Insider’s Guide on Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Genetic Testing
Breast Cancer Awareness Month Genetic Testing

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to honor it we have put together some tips from professionals in-the-know…

Before you have genetic testing:

  • Meet with a certified genetic counselor. Many health care providers offer ‘genetic counseling’ but are not graduate trained, board eligible or board certified in this area.  Make sure you’re seeing the real deal. You can find a genetic counselor through the National Society of Genetic Counselors. If there is no counselor in your area, or the wait time is too long, consider independent phone counseling. Several companies offer such testing and it is often covered by insurance.

What to ask a genetic counselor:

  • Ask about the risks as well as the benefits of genetic testing so you can make an informed decision about whether you really need and want testing, and whether now is the right time.
  • Ask for help with your insurance pre-authorization.  You’ll be more likely to get coverage and to pay little or nothing out of pocket.
  • Ask which genetic test the would be the best match for you. Your genetic counselor is more likely to know which test is right for you.  There are many tests and, no, they are not all the same.  And more genes is not necessarily the right answer.
  • Ask if the testing laboratory being used shares their data in public databases, which aid research in this area.  If not, consider using a laboratory that does not hoard data for private profit.

After you have genetic testing:

  • Be sure that you meet with a certified genetic counselor for interpretation.  This is critical even if no mutation is found.
  • Ask for patient resources for books, movies and advocate groups.  You can also find these groups via a google search, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Photo by Duncan Hall, via Flickr