The medical field has undergone rapid changes in the past several years. Instead of waiting for illnesses to strike, new technology, such as the genomic testing performed at Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY, can help uncover problems before they arise. Keep reading to gain some insight into what you can learn from the process and how it can help you achieve better health outcomes.
What Can You Learn From Genomic Testing?
Genetics plays a large role in determining your health throughout life. A single mutation can lead to an increased risk of several common diseases, indicate the likelihood of certain cancers developing, or result in a diagnose of current symptoms. So, while the testing process is incredibly simple and straightforward for patients, the results you get offer a wealth of information.
You may be wondering what, exactly, you can learn from genomic testing. In many ways, the answer may depend on what you are looking for since that can influence the type of testing you undergo. Here are just a few of the things that genetic testing can help you find out.
Inherited Genetic Traits
There are a surprising number of inherited diseases. Many people carry traits for these conditions but, thanks to the complexity of genetics, they never develop symptoms. AS a result, they do not know the mutation is present. This is more common than you might realize.
Genetic testing can help identify inherited mutations that may cause problems down the. Knowing this information is especially important in the family planning process, particularly if you or your partner have a family history of inherited disease. Once you know whether or not you carry the mutation, you can make informed decisions about family structure and screenings for your children.
Likelihood of Developing Certain Illnesses
Many patients visit the Medical Transformation Center to develop a holistic plan for their healthcare. Our personalized medicine program means that we get to know each patient before making any healthcare decisions. Genomic testing helps us to generate a clear and comprehensive picture of your personal health risks. We can identify markers of certain conditions, such s heart disease, diabetes, and certain type so cancer, and then tailor your future screens to any risk factors that are identified in the results.
The Need for Additional Testing
In some cases, the biggest piece of information you will get from your test results is that you need additional or more specific tests. Instead of being discouraging, this is actually good news. It could mean you are closer to a diagnosis, or that you now know to be on the lookout for specific conditions you are predisposed to develop.
Impacts of Lifestyle and Epigenetics on Health
There is growing evidence that lifestyle factors impact gene expression. Having a baseline of information can help you monitor how your own lifestyle choices impact your health at a genetic level.
How Is Testing Done?
Before you can fully appreciate the information genomic testing can provide, it may be helpful to understand what it involves. Genomic testing is completely non-invasive. In fact, you will remain comfortable throughout the entire pain-free process. Coupled with its ability to detect diseases before they lead to symptoms, its non-invasive nature makes genetic testing an attractive option for patients.
There are two possibilities for sample collection depending on the type of genetic testing in question. Some tests use saliva samples, which are obtained through a cheek swab. Others require a small blood sample.
After You Receive Results
It is important to establish open lines of communication with your doctors before you begin the process of analyzing genetics. That is because, unlike many other medical tests, getting your results back is just the start when it comes to genetics. Another unique feature of this type of testing is that you may receive results that are neither positive nor negative. That is because we are still learning what symptoms or diseases many of the possible individual mutations cause.
Just because there is a mutation does not mean that you will definitely develop a disease. Your results will need to be carefully analyzed and interpreted. Despite tremendous advances in the field of genetics, there is still a lot of information that remains unknown. For example, it is important to remember that many of the mutations uncovered are completely harmless.
The most effective strategy is to use test results as part of a larger holistic care plan. For example, markers that are cause for concern can indicate the need for additional tests. Or, if you are using testing as part of a family planning process, the results may inform your decisions going forward.
What Types of Genetic Testing Can be Done?
Our office does a comprehensive panel to uncover potential risk factors and causes of symptoms. In addition to this panel, we offer an in-depth genetic analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms. While most SNPs are harmless, that isn’t always the case. In many cases, these minute changes that affect single base pairs of genes can be directly linked to certain diseases.
When genetic testing is performed as a preventive measure, SNPs can also be used to identify individual risk for specific medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. That makes SNPs an important diagnostic tool in both identifying potential problems early as well as uncovering genetic causes of existing illnesses.
The Differences Between Professional and At-Home Tests
If you want to learn more about your family history or existing illnesses, then a direct-to-consumer test may be sufficient for your needs. However, if you want an expert analysis of your test results that can be applied directly to personalized medical care, your tests should be performed directly by a medical professional. Dr. Paige at Medical Transformation Center is an expert in genomic analysis and can help you understand the results of your tests and incorporate them into your care regime.
There are tons of companies offering direct-to-consumer genetic testing. These should not be confused with professional services offered at medical facilities like Medical Transformation Center, which offer much more comprehensive results. Consider these differences in the two testing procedures.
DTC test for a limited scope of mutations. If you are looking for a specific mutation, then that may be fine. However, if you want a complete panel done, or you are trying to determine risks for family planning or future health screening needs, you want to look for a broader range of mutations.
Testing with a healthcare provider is accompanied by in-depth analysis, information, and counseling as needed to help you process the results. ON the other hand, there is little to no follow-up when you use a DTC kit.
Who Should Consider Testing?
Because it is non-invasive and pain-free, genetic testing is considered incredibly safe. That makes it particularly attractive as a diagnostic tool. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then it may be a tool that you should consider for your own personal healthcare.
If you have a family history of genetic disorders, then testing can help you identify risks of developing that condition as well as passing it on to future generations. It can also help pinpoint the cause of symptoms you have been experiencing, yet that has so far evaded a definitive diagnosis. This is especially useful for younger patients that present with symptoms characteristic of genetic conditions.
If you have any of these, then it might be time to consider having genomic testing performed:
- Family history of genetic disease
- Current symptoms that point to a genetic disorder
- An existing diagnosis of a genetic disorder
- Concerns about genetic conditions and family planning
- A desire to assess risks of certain health conditions
While genomic testing is a safe way to uncover health risks, it may not be the right next step for you. In some cases, we will recommend a different strategy during your diagnosis. For example, individuals who have already been diagnosed with a genetic condition may not receive many benefits from additional genetic testing.
Cost may also be a factor in your decision. Many insurance companies do not provide coverage for this type of testing. That can lead patients to avoid it. However, since the results can save you from the need for additional testing, not to mention get you to a diagnosis faster and potentially help you avoid debilitating disease down the road, you need to consider the big picture when determining its actual value.
Learn More About Your Health Today
If you are ready to learn more about your personal health risks, now is a great time to get started. Our friendly and professional staff can help you uncover genetic traits that have yet to cause symptoms. In many cases, we can also help put your mind at ease. Contact Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY, today to schedule a consultation and get on the road to better health.