Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks describes if genetic testing can tell a woman if she has cancer.
Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks:
No. Genetic testing is looking, it’s taking a blood sample, pulling out DNA from a part of the blood, and proofreads to determine are you predisposed to cancer. Do you have an underlying genetic mutation that makes certain body parts more likely to develop cancer?
First of all, for the majority of times, that risk is not 100%. It can be 70 to 80%, 50% for other organs, but it’s very rarely 100%. So the genetic mutation does not equal that the cancer will ultimately happen, but it also doesn’t tell if it has already happened. You have to do the specific screenings. So the mammogram to look for breast cancer, colonoscopy to look for colon cancer, and things like that.
Many women ask us, “Oh, you are drawing my blood. Will it look at the cancer markers and tell me if I have cancer?” and it won’t. It’s just going to tell us what your risks for developing cancer somewhere in your lifetime are.
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: