Thanks to marketing efforts and people taking a more proactive approach to managing their health, genetic tests such as 23andMe have become immensely popular. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a test made by the company called Genome Service Genetic Health Risk that allows people to perform an at-home test for ten diseases that could have a genetic basis. Some of these include Alzheimer’s disease, Celiac disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Concerns with Completing Genetic Tests at Home
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, at-home tests such as those distributed by 23andMe can be incomplete and possibly provide people with misleading information about their genetic risk factors. For example, the tests often don’t pick up on potential variations in genes and can’t predict whether you will develop a particular condition. At best, the test can let you know the way in which your genetic profile influences your risk of certain health conditions.
Another thing to consider is whether any of your blood relatives have or had diseases included in the list of those tested by the at-home genetic test. If they have, you may need to consider the possibility that the test won’t include all genes that you need to have tested. That means you could end up with inconclusive or even false results. The National Society of Genetic Counselors recommends that you discuss the results with certified genetic counselors rather than attempt to interpret them yourself.
Breast Cancer Gene Test for Home Use Not Foolproof
Although the FDA recently approved a home screening test for breast cancer, it will require 23andMe to issue warnings about its limitations. Although the test analyzes saliva to determine breast cancer risk, it is only sensitive enough to pick up on three of more than 1,000 potential mutations that increase the likelihood of developing the disease. The FDA further warns that a genetic mutation isn’t a common cause of breast cancer and that the at-home test doesn’t pick up on the most common mutations even when that is the cause.
Make Sense of Your Test Results with Help from Genetic Counselors
Even when you receive the correct results, you might not know what to do with that information. Genetic counselors, such as those available via video conference at Advanced Tele-Genetic Counseling, help you make sense of what it means to have certain gene patterns and what it could mean for current and future generations as well.
Speak to a Genetic Counselor on Your Schedule
We believe that everyone should have equal access to genetic counseling, but people in rural areas, those with no specialists in their area and even those with scheduling conflicts often get left out. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how we can serve anyone, regardless of location.