Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks explains if a woman can receive genetic testing so, in the years to come, her children will not have to.
Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks:
Many women ask us that. Many women say that they are going through the genetic testing for their children because they have already had cancer. They want to do something to help their children never have to go through it.
The difficulty with that is that we share half of our information with our children, and so, if we test an adult child, because we’re not going to test young children, but if we tested an adult child first, and we got a negative result, so we didn’t find a mutation, we don’t know if that’s because the mom also doesn’t have a mutation and these genes don’t explain her cancer or if mom has a mutation that her child did not inherit. And those are two very different things.
In a family where we know there’s a mutation and we test a family member and find out that they don’t have it, that person, we say, is separated from the cancer history; they do average her screening. If we know that these genes don’t explain mom’s cancer, well, we can’t use that test to quantify their children’s risk. We say, “Okay, it’s not these genes,” but we still are going to provide empiric risk for the children to say, “It’s not high risk, it’s moderate risk. What is the risk? When do they start screening?
So, from an interpretation standpoint and what to do with the information, we really need to start testing with the person who has had the cancer, and then only go to children if there’s an informative test to offer them.
About Kimberly Banks, M.S., C.G.C.:
Kimberly Banks, M.S., C.G.C., is the Program Coordinator and a Genetic Counselor at The Cancer Genetics Program in The Center For Cancer Prevention and Treatment at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. Kimberly received her master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from California State University, Northridge, and conducted her fellowship at City of Hope National Medical Center. She is board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Visit Kimberly Banks at St. Joseph Hospital Cancer Genetics Program: