“Testing your Genes for Cancer: January 25, 2017
The thought of finding out you have cancer can be scary, but health experts say there is a way to find out your chances of getting cancer before you’re ever diagnosed.
Dr. Fadi Abu Shahin, a gynecologist oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health, says a simple blood or saliva test can determine if you’re at risk for developing cancer. “I see two types of patients: patients who have cancer and part of their work up after diagnosis is to see if their cancer was caused by a genetic mutation. And the other group of patients is those who are concerned based on their family history.”
If qualified, patients can find out if they have a mutation that predisposes them to cancer. “We test for the genes that predispose for that cancer. They’re very accurate in terms of identifying if there’s a mutation or no,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
The test focuses on family history to determine if the patient is at risk for having a genetic mutation. Based on the patient’s family history experts will decide what genes need to be tested. “Most people who carry a mutation that predisposes to cancer will have family history suggestive to that,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
But the test can also show mutations that are not genetic. “If you have a mutation in a gene we go back and see what we know about that gene,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
If a patient shows a mutation, experts can offer frequent screenings or start screenings at a younger age. “We know more about the genes that cause cancer, and we know more genes that cause cancer, and technology has advanced a lot now to allow us to test for those genes at a very low cost,” said Dr. Abu Shahin.
The test gives patients a jump start to protecting their health.
Bottom line - if you’re going away for the holidays, don’t leave your safety precautions at home.