Why should I have a genetic test if I have been diagnosed with, or am suspected of having, a heritable condition?
Heritable conditions are caused by mutations, or changes in the DNA of certain genes in your body. Genetic testing is a diagnostic tool that can help identify the disease-causing change in your DNA, and is becoming a standard diagnostic procedure in several fields of medicine. The reasons for choosing genetic testing have become more important in individual health management over the years, and several international medical organizations now recommend it. Here are some reasons to choose genetic testing:
- Confirmation of diagnosis
Genetic conditions often have observable traits – changes to your body that may cause symptoms. Many medical conditions may share identical or similar traits/symptoms. In these cases, a genetic diagnosis can help confirm if a condition is caused by a specific gene change. It could even alter your current clinical diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis with the help of genetic testing allows your physician to find the best care and management plan for you.
- Testing other family members at risk
If a condition has a genetic cause, there is a higher chance of passing on the genetic change to your children. Your siblings and parents could also have the same change and be affected by the condition. Knowing that the cause of your condition is genetic allows your physician to identify risks to other family members, and provides a solid basis for clinical follow-up and preventative actions for affected family members. Genetic diagnosis may also help increase the lifespan and improve quality of life for other family members who were unaware they were at risk for a genetic condition.
- Personalized treatment and management
With a genetic diagnosis, your physician can identify and evaluate your risks. It can help in fine-tuning your treatment and follow-up care.
A genetic diagnosis means accurate genetic counseling for you and allows your physician to estimate recurrence in your family.
Genetic testing can also tell you that you do not have the genetic change/ mutation causing the condition in your family. This information may determine that no further clinical follow up is needed for you