How does genetic testing complement traditional cancer screening?
The purpose of genetic testing is risk stratification. In other words, genetic testing can identify you as either high risk for developing the disease or low risk. If your mother had an inherited breast cancer syndrome, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting it. If you test positive for the syndrome after genetic testing, your lifetime breast cancer risk approaches 85 percent. If you test negative, your risk approaches that of the general population. Q: Have we entered a new era of medical genetic sleuthing? A: In some sense, we have. However, this new era offers both advantages and disadvantages for the patient. The great promise lies in the development of a genetic profile of diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, to which a person might be predisposed. Thus, if we know we fit a particular profile, we can take our diet and exercise more seriously, and physicians may be able to individually tailor diagnostic and treatment methods more effectively. The downside is that not all