Genetic Testing FAQs

Genetic Testing FAQs

Who Do You Know That Needs to Know?

Testing for inherited risks of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other hereditary conditions helps you and your doctor understand your risk so you can make the best choices for preventive medical care. Knowing your family history is an important first step, but testing can give you a more accurate picture of your inherited risk.

Cancer: Out of every 100 people diagnosed with cancer, about 5-10 people (5-10%) have an inherited risk for cancer.

Type 1 Diabetes: If you are a man with type 1 diabetes, the odds of your child developing diabetes are 1 in 17. If you are a woman with type 1 diabetes and your child was born before you were 25, your child’s risk is 1 in 25; if your child was born after you turned 25, your child’s risk is 1 in 100.

Type 2 Diabetes: According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90–95% of them have type 2 diabetes.

Genes are made up by the DNA we inherit from our parents. We all have two copies of each gene (one from each parent). The DNA sequence of a gene is a code with instructions to make a functioning protein (like a recipe). Inherited changes to the DNA code can cause the gene to stop working. This prevents the protein from being made properly. Certain types of genes are responsible for controlling how cells grow. These genes help prevent cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other hereditary conditions. People who inherit a mutation (change to the DNA sequence) in a gene that normally prevents cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other hereditary conditions.

A gene mutation means that your risk to develop certain cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other hereditary conditions in your lifetime is increased. Learning about these gene mutations helps to predict what type of cancer you may develop.

Ask your doctor if testing is right for you. If so, your doctor will help you test with us and assist in sending your buccal swab sample back to our laboratory for analysis. Alternatively, you can request a test kit yourself online here and we’ll reach out to your doctor for you.

Your doctor will let you know your test results as soon as they are available. We issue reports as early as two weeks from the date your test is received in our laboratory (typical turn around time is 2-4 weeks).

No. Genetic testing does not tell you if you currently have a cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other hereditary conditions. Your test results tell you about your inherited risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other hereditary conditions.

Genetic testing is usually covered by insurance when indicated. Coverage usually depends on many factors, including your specific insurance plan and the cancer history in your family. The genetic counselor will review this information with you during your initial genetic counseling appointment and may be able to work with your insurance company to obtain coverage for testing. For patients who are not covered for genetic testing by insurance, it is important to note that the cost of genetic testing is becoming more affordable for patients who have to pay for this out of pocket.

Yes. Your genetic test results are protected under the same HIPAA laws as the rest of your medical records. In addition, there are Massachusetts state laws and U.S. federal laws which prohibit discrimination in certain circumstances based on genetic test results. This protects people from health insurance discrimination and employer discrimination.