- Guide to Breast Cancer
- Take the Breast Cancer Quiz
- Young Women & Breast Cancer
- Find a local Geneticist, Ph.D. in your town
- Breast cancer and genetic testing introduction
- What happens during genetic testing?
- How do I interpret the results of the genetic test?
- Should I be tested for genetic mutations?
- What are my options if I have a "cancer gene?"
- What are the potential problems with genetic testing?
- What are the benefits of genetic testing?
- What about my privacy and genetic testing?
Quick GuideBreast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
What Are the Potential Problems With Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing is not 100% accurate. If a test is negative, a person still has a chance of developing breast cancer. If the test is positive, there is still a 15% to 20% chance of not developing breast cancer.
Genetic testing is costly, ranging from about $200 to more than $2,000, depending on the type of test. Insurance policies vary in providing coverage for genetic testing.
The results of genetic tests won't be available for several weeks. The length of time it takes to get results depends on the tests performed and under what circumstances they are done.
Genetic testing is highly controversial in society today, and legislation has been enacted to protect individuals who may have a genetic risk of developing cancer from employment and insurance problems. The best course of action a person can take is to become involved with an established genetic registry that can counsel individuals with a genetic risk for cancer.
What Are the Benefits of Genetic Testing?
For some women, the benefits of genetic testing include the ability to make informed medical and lifestyle decisions while reducing the anxiety of not knowing their genetic background. Another benefit is the ability to make a proactive decision regarding prophylactic surgery. In addition, many women are able to participate in medical research that may in the long run decrease their risk of death from breast cancer.
What About My Privacy?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 prevents insurance companies from denying health insurance based on genetic information, and prevents them from using genetic information to demonstrate that a health condition existed before application was made for insurance. In addition, many states have passed laws or have legislation pending to address insurance concerns.
WebMD Medical Reference
National Breast Cancer Coalition
Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on June 20, 2009