My friend's family has a history of cancer, could she be screened for (genetic) markers that indicate high risk for certain cancers or something and how much would that cost and how helpful would it be
I know that you can get a test for the BRCA allele that predisposes one to breast cancer but I am unsure of the cost. What I do know is that even if it came out positive it isn't a guarantee you are going to get breast cancer(or not get breast cancer if its negative), so I am unsure of the real benefit of the test. It depends on how strong the family history is and the age of onset of the cancer (cancer at younger ages is more likely due to some type of inherited factor rather than cancer at older ages). Then the question is what do you do after the results? If you have a 30% greater chance of breast cancer, are you willing to get a masectomy and have your ovaries removed (which will have great affects on your physical and mental health) for just an increased risk? There aren't any guarantees with these tests for cancers unless its a pediatric cancer , in all the cases that I know (eg. retinoblastoma.
If there are specific tests that you can do to determine your potential, genetically-mediated risk of cancer, they might have the benefit of telling you whether or not to increase your surveillance for said cancers. Perhaps if you screened positive for the BRCA allele, then your doctor would recommend more frequent mammograms, etc in order to detect and treat any occurence of the disease at as early a stage as possible. This may also provide justification to your health care provider to cover such increased monitoring, but I don't know if that would always be the case.
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