Genetic testing company 23andMe can now tell you about your breast cancer risk, but only based on three mutations.
Eyewitness News spoke with a local genetic counselor about why you should, or should not, consider this as an option.
It’s the first of its kind, an at home test that can tell you if you have a risk for breast or ovarian cancer, approved by the FDA on Tuesday.
Genetic counselor Heather Marin says it comes with a few warnings.
The test only detects three out of more than 1,000 known BRCA mutations.
“So, it is very important for people to consult with a healthcare provider about what would be appropriate testing for them because it can be falsely reassuring,” said Marin.
Pointing out that the three variants in the 23andMe test are most common in people with eastern European ancestry.
“Individuals are trying to take more control over their own health care and their risk factors which is excellent, that’s really good news,” said Marin, but says it’s important for those with concerns of being at risk to contact their healthcare provider for the most accurate results.
“Of those that test positive for a genetic mutation, about one third of them are positive for a BRCA mutation and two thirds are positive for a change in a different gene. So, not only does the 23andMe test only looking for several of those BRCA alterations, it’s certainly not looking for the rest of those.”
Susan G. Komen Evansville Tri-State executive director Sheila Seiler says it’s great to see advancements like this, but also agrees that seeing a healthcare provider is the most reliable source.
“So, it is still important. This is only one tool to use out of many of the others we have available,” said Seiler.
Marin says if you are interested in speaking with a genetics specialist, all it takes is a healthcare referral from your current physician.
(This article was originally published March 7, 2018)