Doctors and other healthcare professionals are in the business of saving lives. One tool at their disposal is hereditary cancer screenings. By being proactive in the fight against cancer, more lives can be saved. Read on about how genetic cancer screening continues to help healthcare professionals serve their patients best and save lives.

About Hereditary Cancer Screening

Hereditary cancer screening is also known as genetic cancer screening. The screening helps to estimate a patient’s chance of developing cancer in their lifetime. Cancer has been shown to have hereditary elements. A patient’s family history, in conjunction with a hereditary cancer screening, can better inform a patient of their chances of cancer. These screeners search for specific changes or mutations in a patient’s genes, chromosomes, or proteins. In other words, these screeners help detect when a patient’s DNA has been mutated in some way. Genetic cancer screenings are available for:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Sarcoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Stomach cancer

Genetic cancer screenings are done by testing a small sample of a patient’s bodily fluid or tissue, such as blood or saliva, which is then sent to a lab to be tested.Though these tests can be uncomfortable for a patient, the benefits far outweigh any risks.

How Does Genetic Cancer Screening Save or Improve Lives?

If a screener comes back negative, this can help a patient’s peace of mind, thus improving their quality of life. A positive test result provides a person with a chance to understand and, in some circumstances, manage their risk of developing cancer. It’s also true that the earlier that cancer is detected, the faster it can be treated, thus saving lives. Finally, for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing can still be done to help them and their doctors make informed decisions about their treatment, as well as inform them of their risk of developing other cancers. By having a more targeted and educated approach to fighting their cancer through genetic testing, more lives can be saved.

Gene Editing and Cancer Screening

DNA has for years now played an important role in the advancement of cancer treatment, from identifying cancer risk to then informing how doctors should proceed with a cancer regimen for their patients. DNA is also being used in gene editing, which is showing great promise for not just treating cancer, but also as another method of screening for risk. For variants where clinical data were available, the gene editing results agreed with clinical findings more than 96% of the time. This suggests that this approach can be used to classify the cancer risks associated with variants of uncertain significance in other genes. This method offers a more robust genetic cancer screening for the patient and increases the likelihood of detecting cancer risk in a patient.

Hereditary cancer screening is a proactive measure that is critical in the fight against cancer. By helping patients learn their risk of developing cancer, they are better prepared and have more time to discuss with their doctors how to move forward. Being prepared is a crucial component to combating cancer, and healthcare professionals would be remiss to not use this highly accurate tool at their disposal.