Genetic counseling provides important information about your health, such as your risk of certain types of cancer. Despite the benefits this counseling offers, there are still several myths about it. These misconceptions can prevent you from knowing your health risks, so you can take steps to lower them. The following information helps dispel these myths about genetic counseling.
Myth: Genetic Counseling Isn’t Needed
It’s common to think that you’re not among the people who need to have genetic counseling done. This type of testing, which checks for certain genetic mutations, might not be necessary, but you won’t know until you meet with genetic counselors. These counselors discuss your personal medical history and your family medical history to determine if you do need genetic counseling and which type you should have done.
Myth: You’re Safe from Cancer if Your Results are Negative
Testing negative for a certain cancer gene does not automatically mean that you never have to worry about getting that type of cancer. It means that your risk for that kind of cancer is lower, but keep in mind that you can still get it due to other factors. You should also be aware that testing positive for a certain cancer gene does not mean that you will end up getting that type of cancer. It does mean that your risk is higher, so you should make sure that you have screenings done for that type of cancer and look into other ways to lower your risk.
Myth: Genetic Counseling is Not Affordable
Genetic counseling might seem expensive, but there are ways to qualify for lower costs. Your insurance provider might cover these costs if you are eligible, such as if you have a family member with a certain type of cancer. Medicaid and Medicare also typically offer coverage for those who meet certain conditions. Even if you do not have coverage that includes genetic counseling, keep in mind that the costs for it have decreased overall.
Myth: You Only Need to Have it Done One Time
Advancements in genetic counseling, which occur on a consistent basis, mean that improved testing is available. In addition to breast cancer testing, counseling is also available for several other types of cancer, including pancreatic and gastric. If you have been tested before, you can discuss the need for additional testing with a counselor. This is particularly important if there were any problems or concerns about your previous results.
Myth: Positive Results Mean That You Need to Take Drastic Steps
If you test positive for a certain cancer gene, you should discuss your next steps for lowering your risk. This does not necessarily mean pursuing aggressive treatment, such as a mastectomy for breast cancer. Your counselor and your doctor can provide you with advice on reducing your risk.