Genetic health testing involves an evaluation of a person’s DNA, and sometimes provides information to help diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. Many types of genetic testing are available, including genetic testing for cancer, genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease, genetic testing for autism, and genetic testing for depression. Yet there are limitations to genetic testing, and it is important to understand how it works. That way, an individual can establish realistic expectations for genetic testing for disease.
What Is Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing helps reveal genetic mutations, which may serve as indicators of disease.
There are many reasons why genetic testing is performed. In some cases, genetic testing is used to confirm a diagnosis of a disease. Or, genetic testing is sometimes used to help a person identify the risk of developing a certain disease. Genetic testing during pregnancy has also been performed to help detect abnormalities in a baby’s genes.
The health risks associated with genetic testing are minimal. Typically, a blood or cheek swab test is used to collect an individual’s DNA sample, and poses no significant health risks. In the event of prenatal genetic testing, there is a small risk of pregnancy loss.
Comparatively, the emotional, financial, and social ramifications of genetic testing can be significant. These risks should be discussed with a genetic health testing provider before an evaluation is conducted to ensure that you know what to expect throughout the genetic testing process.
What Happens During a Genetic Health Test?
A genetic health test is often performed by a doctor or genetic counselor, who gathers information about a patient and his or her personal and medical histories before the assessment is conducted.
How a genetic health test is performed varies based on the type of assessment. During a blood test, a needle is inserted into a patient’s vein to collect the sample. With a cheek swab, a sample is collected from inside of a patient’s cheek. Meanwhile, with a prenatal genetic test, a needle is inserted into a patient’s abdominal wall and uterus to collect amniotic fluid for testing.
Once a genetic test sample is retrieved, it is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are next provided to a patient, but the length of time it takes to receive these results varies based on the type of test and the medical facility where the test is performed.
Positive genetic health test results mean that the genetic mutation tested for was identified during the assessment. Conversely, negative genetic health test results mean that a genetic mutation was not detected during the assessment. In either scenario, a doctor or genetic counselor discusses potential next steps with a patient after genetic test results become available.
Is a Genetic Test Necessary?
Genetic testing is sometimes requested by women before or during pregnancy. It helps women understand if their family history puts a baby at a higher risk of inherited diseases.
Sometimes, different ethnic groups have an elevated risk of certain diseases. For example, people of eastern European descent may have a higher risk than others of Tay-Sachs disease and Canavan disease. Thus, genetic testing may be performed to help an individual of eastern European descent or other ethnic backgrounds evaluate his or her risk of experiencing an inherited disease.
Schedule a Genetic Test at Achieve Medical Center
There is some value in genetic testing, but it is by no means foolproof. By working with the expert medical clinicians at Achieve Medical Center, individuals can receive comprehensive support with a wide range of health issues. Our medical clinicians treat the body, mind, and spirit, and offer genetic testing to aid in the diagnosis of psychiatric and mental health conditions.
Achieve Medical Center is a multidisciplinary psychiatric and mental health services practice that strives to treat the individual rather than just his or her symptoms. In doing so, we provide each patient with a total wellness experience unlike any other. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with us, please contact us online, or call us today at (858) 427-5060.