Genetic Cancer Screening

Clinical genetic testing looks for variations or mutations in your genes that may lead to illness or disease. Genetic cancer testing (or “screening”) specifically looks for gene mutations that might lead to a higher risk of cancer or might provide information about how to better treat a cancer diagnosis. Oklahoma Cancer Center offers a comprehensive genetic cancer screening program utilizing the most accurate tests available today.

Before you have genetic cancer screening, gather as much information as possible about your family’s medical history. Then, talk with your doctor or a genetic counselor about your personal and family medical history to better understand your risk. If a person has cancer caused by a genetic mutation, then their family members may be at an increased risk for that same disease. The results from the genetic cancer test can help guide ongoing screening or treatment.

What is hereditary cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which cells grow out of control. Cancer gene mutation happens due to changes in some of the genes inside cells. Genes are pieces of DNA controlling how cells create the proteins our bodies use to function and keep our cells in balance. Genes affect things such as hair color, eye color, and height. They can also affect your chance of getting certain diseases, such as cancer.

While many people have a history of cancer in their family, only 5-10% of cancer is hereditary. A pattern of the same or related types of cancer within a family due to inherited cancer gene mutations that can pass from parent to child is hereditary cancer.

For people with a cancer diagnosis, genetic test results may affect treatment options, including decisions about surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy or targeted therapy, or eligibility for clinical trials.

Genetic Cancer Screening Procedure in OKC

Oklahoma Cancer Center offers a comprehensive genetic screening program to help identify patients with a genetic predisposition to cancer and make informed decisions about their healthcare. A patient interested in genetic cancer screening will meet with a provider to discuss their family history of cancer and the benefits of the test. If the patient and clinical provider determine that a test is appropriate, then a blood or saliva sample is collected and sent to a lab for testing. The results of the test come back within about two weeks. At that point, a member of the Oklahoma Cancer Center clinical team will follow up with the patient to discuss their results.

Most insurance companies as well as Medicare cover genetic testing and prevention if your medical or family history suggests a patient would benefit from it. If the patient’s insurance company does not cover clinical genetic testing, the maximum out-of-pocket fee is $249.

If the genetic screening comes back with a cancer gene mutation. then the rest of the patient’s family can receive genetic cancer testing at no charge.

Getting Your Genetics Screening Results

Our genetic screening counselor should receive the test results in less than 2-3 weeks and will contact you to set up a time to review.

There are three possible genetic screening results:

  1. The most common genetic screening result, negative results, is when there are no harmful genetic mutations.
  2. A positive result represents a genetic mutation that leads to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
  3. A Variant of Unknown Significance, or VUS, can occur if a genetic change appears and the risk impact is unknown.

Genetic Screening FAQs

  • What is the purpose of genetic screening?

    Genetic cancer testing helps estimate your chance of developing cancer in your lifetime.

  • What can genetic screening detect?

    Genetic screening can detect specific changes in your genes, chromosomes, or proteins. These changes are called mutations.

  • Should you have genetic testing?

    If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, hereditary cancer genetic testing may be an option for you and/or your family members to consider.

    • Have you or your family members* been diagnosed with cancer at a young age (50 or younger)
    • Have you or your family members been diagnosed with cancers that are usually rare, like ovarian cancer or male breast cancer?
    • Have you or your family members* been diagnosed with more than one cancer?
    • Have three or more people on the same side of your family had cancer?
    • Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry?
    • Has anyone in your family been found to have a heredity gene mutation?

    *”Family” or “Family members” here refers to blood relatives, such as siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins