GREAT FALLS- Genetic testing gives people a way to be more proactive rather than reactive when it comes to cancer.
For one woman who has gone through the process, she says it very well could have saved her life.
“Information is power...,” explains Micki Lague, a genetic testing patient.
While it might be daunting to know whether or not you're at a higher risk for cancer, genetic testing gives you the ability to know sooner rather than later.
“The goal is screening and prevention that is appropriate to their specific cancer risks,” explains Betsy Smith, a Certified Genetic Counselor.
If you’re wondering whether or now you should get tested, the good news is, the answer is pretty simple.
“At this point, we don't recommend genetic testing for everybody in the general populations, but there are some things in an individual’s history, or their family history, that should prompt a genetic evaluation,” further explains Smith.
The things you need to be on the lookout for are any family members diagnosed with breast, ovarian, prostate or pancreatic cancers.
Currently, 12 different kinds of breast cancers have been discovered; each varying in severity.
If any of the above cancers run in your family, getting tested might be a good idea.
“I was tested and to my shock, I was tested positive. When I got the positive test result, I wanted to immediately do prophylactic surgery so I wouldn't end up with ovarian cancer or breast cancer. I'm glad that we found it out because I hopefully will not have to face any of those cancers,” says Lague.
Currently, 12 different kinds of breast cancers have been discovered, each varying in severity.
The prime age to get tested is anywhere between 25 -35 years old.
The process is pretty simple. You'll either give a blood or saliva sample that is then sent to a lab for testing.
A few weeks later, you'll get the results.
Following this, it's up to you on what you on want to do from there.
“Whenever we do genetic testing in an individual, we assess where they are currently based on their age, and their gender, and their medical status, and figure out what options are relevant to them with regard to cancer screening and prevention strategies,” explains Smith.
Unfortunately, some of the decisions you're faced with might be harder than others.
“The mastectomy was tough. Yeah... It was emotionally difficult to go through it. But I had re-construction. It's never quite the same as things were before but whenever I’m bothered by that, I think well, what would it be like? That was a short period in my life to go through something if I can avoid breast cancer and having years of worry that's... That was worth it,” says Lague.
At the end of the day, it very well could save your life.
“It gives you the power to do something about it, to act on it. I highly recommend testing,” says Lague.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
You can order genetic tests online, but the most accurate option is to get it done by a medical professional.