Privy Health Patient EducationCancer Genetic Screening(CGX) - Gain Cancer Insight
What’s Medication Genetic Testing?
Each of us has two copies of most genes, one from each chromosome in a pair. The core elements of our DNA are called bases, and the sequence of these bases determines the gene and its correct function. Sometimes, genetic mutations – abnormal changes of a gene – occur in our genetic makeup. If gene alterations are present, they may cause normal genes to become cancer-causing genes. Genetic testing for cancer assesses your risk of developing specific types to which you may be predisposed to according to your family history.
How Genes Play a Role in Cancer
In most cases, cancer develops by chance. Except, the genes that we are born with can contribute to increasing our risk of developing particular types, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, and prostate cancers. About five to 10% of all cancer cases occur in those who inherit a genetic mutation. Known as hereditary cancer, these occur because of inherited mutations within your family. Genetic testing for cancer does not only benefit you, but it can also help primary and secondary relatives make more informed healthcare decisions.
Some individuals are genetically predisposed to specific types of cancer. CGX cancer genetic screening (CGX) helps you get the answers you need to determine whether you have an increased risk of developing the disease. Different gene mutations can cause different types of cancer. CGX genetic cancer screening aims to find cancer early, before symptoms are present and when treatment has the highest success rate.
What is CGX Cancer Screening?
With the increasing evidence to support genetics in mainstream medicine, CGX genetic cancer screening can save your life. Early detection of cancer significantly increases the chances of effective treatment and survival. If you were to receive a cancer diagnosis today, you would likely encounter the same therapy as someone else in a similar situation.
CGX genetic screening for cancer will act as a form of personalized medicine to determine which treatment is appropriate for your genetic profile. As we continue to learn more in regards to the science of malignant tumors, CGX screening can improve successful patient outcomes and increase survival rates. In recent years, genomic testing has become readily available for cancer risk assessment, prevention, genetic counseling, and therapy.
Genetic testing can especially make cancer treatment more effective. Cancer genomics studies the genetics of a tumor that aims to improve how doctors can improve treatment in future patients. With custom-designed treatment plans, pharmaceutical drugs could target cancer cells more efficiently, without harming the healthy ones.
How Genetic Testing for Cancer Works
If you decide to undergo genetic testing for cancer, a procedure called a buccal smear uses a small cotton swab to collect a sample of cells from inside the surface of the cheek.
Also known as predictive testing, it’s often used to look for mutations that you may inherit from one or both parents, which may contribute to the cause of cancer.
Once your genetic sample arrives at a laboratory, scientists extract the saliva using magnetic particle processing. Using proprietary software, state-of-the-art sequencing technology, and specialized programming, the laboratory reports your results in writing, to discuss them with your doctor or a genetic counselor.
What do the Cancer Genetic Test Results mean?
Results can be positive or negative and may be challenging to interpret. Therefore, it is essential to ask questions before and after genetic testing is complete. A positive test result indicates that the laboratory found a particular gene, chromosome, or protein change that is of interest.
It may suggest that you are a carrier of a precise genetic mutation, or you are at an increased risk of developing cancer. A negative CGX cancer screening test result implies that there is no change in the chromosome, protein, or gene, that the laboratory is taking into consideration.
Which Genes and Cancers Undergo Genetic Testing?
All cancers are the result of genetic mutations. In most cases, these alterations occur due to environmental exposures, risk factors, and the natural aging process. However, about five to 10 percent of many common cancers are thought to be hereditary, which includes but are not limited to, breast, colon, ovarian, uterine, kidney, and melanoma.
Some genes considerably elevate your risk of developing cancer, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. For example, mutations in these genes improve the danger for a woman to develop hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, while they may increase the opportunity for a male to develop breast or prostate cancer. Other genes that may pose a risk to cancer development include, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and EPCAM. Just because you might be born with a gene mutation, this does not mean you will develop the disease. Additionally, some hereditary cancer syndromes can increase the risk for more than one type of cancer, including Lynch syndrome, liver, pancreatic, and colon.
CGX genetic cancer screening identifies single, or multiple, genetic mutations across a multi-gene panel that can provide a more comprehensive assessment of cancer-related genes in your family.
Who Should Consider Genetic Testing for Cancer?
Genetic testing for cancer can be a useful guide in helping you make informed decisions about how to manage future risks of cancer should it arise. If a doctor determines you are at a more elevated risk than most patients for hereditary cancer, he or she may recommend CGX cancer screening. You may also consider genetic testing for the following reasons:
- A family member has confirmed their known inherited gene mutation
- You or a relative received a breast, colon, or uterine cancer diagnosis under the age of 50
- Rare cancer types, such as male breast cancer, have occurred in your family
- Ethnicity (Eastern European Jewish ancestry is associated with breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers)
- Several first-degree relatives are diagnosed, such as parents, children, or siblings
If cancer has a reputation in your family, CGX genetic cancer screening can fundamentally benefit your health as well as the health of your relatives.
Can CGX Screening Help If I Have Already Received a Cancer Diagnosis?
The short answer is yes. If you already have cancer, CGX genetic screening could determine if a tumor manifested from an inherited gene mutation. It may also present valuable information if you are at risk of developing a second form of cancer. If you already have the disease, your doctor could use your CGX cancer screening results to tailor a treatment plan suitable for your needs.
Genetic Testing Coverage and Reimbursement
Genomic testing is potentially necessary for preventive, family planning, or quality-of-life measures. Perhaps you are reluctant or have been hesitant to test because you don’t want to pay out-of-pocket costs. In 2010, a law called The Affordable Care Act was passed to define specific health services as “Essential Health Benefits,” which must be covered by all health plans. Most health insurance policies cover the cost of genetic testing when a physician recommends it, or if you meet specific criteria that indicate hereditary cancer in your family.
In regards to age-based federal health insurance programs, Medicare covers hereditary cancer genetic counseling and testing under specific criteria for people who already received a cancer diagnosis. There may be exceptions for people with early signs and symptoms, but Medicare does not cover CGX screening for individuals without a cancer diagnosis. If your policyholder is Medicaid, several state programs offer coverage for BRCA testing as well as reimbursement for eligible individuals. Since CGX cancer screening tests do not require coverage from all healthcare plans, it is essential to discuss coverage and reimbursement policies with your provider.
Patients should be reimbursed for the cost of genetic testing to help reduce health care expenses and detect disease early when treatment is most successful. Insurers are often faced with this challenge due to the type of test performed, if the basis for testing was appropriate, or if the test is scientifically accurate. “Coverage-decision making” is a process that health insurance policies and purchasers endure while assessing which services will be covered. If you wish to undergo genetic screening for cancer, a genetic counselor can help determine if you qualify for a financial assistance program. Many are available, and some laboratories even offer CGX screening at a low cost.
Actionable Results Improve Patient Outcomes
There is existing evidence that genomic testing and genetic counseling improves patient accuracy in determining predisposed cancer risk. You deserve to live your best life, and genetic screening for cancer can provide you with valuable information to make better-informed treatment decisions.
CGX screening can also be a fundamental tool in preventing, delaying the onset, or treating the disease. Actionable results optimize patient care because early detection and preventative care are the keys to survival.