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Genetic testing and family history

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing is a blood test that looks for changes, also called alterations or mutations, in genes. These changes cause disease or place someone at higher risk for getting a certain disease, such as cancer. Sometimes these gene changes can be passed from parent to child.

Genetic testing, as part of cancer risk assessment, is done in specialized laboratories by trained professionals.

How can genetic testing be helpful?

  • It can tell you if you did inherit a specific genetic change
  • It can tell you if you did not inherit a specific genetic change
  • It can help explain your risk for getting cancer
  • It can help you better understand what you can do to lower your risk for cancer
  • If you have just been diagnosed with cancer, it can help with your treatment plan
  • If you already have cancer, it can help you learn your risk for a second cancer
  • It can help your family members learn if they have inherited a specific genetic change
  • It may be able to help explain other family members' test results

Your cancer risk counselor will help you learn more about what genetic testing can tell you.

Learn about a family pedigree

How long does it take to get my genetic test results?

Genetic testing can take anywhere from two weeks to several months to complete.