The world of genetic testing is quickly expanding and we, the patients, need to know where it leads to. With the human genome mapped not too long ago, how far along has genetic testing actually evolved? Read more to find out.
Lets start out with the basics. What is genetic testing? The National Human Genome Research Institute declares it as a test that uses “laboratory methods to look at your genes, which are in the DNA instructions that you inherit from your mother and father. Genetic tests may be used to identify increase risks of health problems, to choose treatments, or to assess responses to treatments”. There are also different types of genetic tests which may also help further demystify what constitutes genetic testing. Some of these include diagnostic testing, which is used to figure out what disease is making a person ill, pharmacogenomic testing, which “gives information about how certain medicines are processed by an individual’s body, and this test helps you to choose the medicines that work best with your genetic makeup”, and others like research genetic testing, newborn screening, prenatal testing, carrier testing, and predictive and pre-symptomatic genetic tests.
One of the good things about genetic testing is that it can remove some of the uncertainty that circles so often around health. For example, women who are pregnant could take a prenatal test will help doctors identify fetuses that have certain diseases, like Down Syndrome. For people who take more than one pill daily, the pharmacogenomic test could help. For example, people who suffer from depression or ADHD and constantly try out different drugs and experiencing unwanted symptoms of those drugs. By taking the pharmacogenomic test also known as the PGx test, the doctor may be able to better understand what treatment works better for you and reduce the risk of unsightly effects from the drug. This also reduces the risk of getting a funky medication interaction that results in strange side effects.
As with most things in life, there are two sides to every story. There are two main drawbacks to genetic testing. One drawback is the possible expenses that it entails. Some insurance company cover genetic testing, some don’t and that isn’t even considering the type of tests and procedures that you may need to take after working through your genetic testing results. The second is the possible emotional stress you may incur after receiving your results. Some people feel guilty, angry, anxious, or even depressed when they find out their results.