Genetic testing is a type of medical test (usually a blood test) that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.
There are two main types of genetic testing:
If you have a cancer diagnosis, you may be most familiar with somatic or tumor testing. This genetic testing is done with a sample of tumor. The DNA in the tumor is studied to determine if different treatments may be better or worse for you. Your cancer doctor or team will be the best resource to discuss this type of genetic testing.
The second type of genetic testing is called germline genetic testing and is done using a blood or saliva sample. The DNA in your blood cells is studied to see if there is a mutation that causes an increased risk to develop cancer. This genetic testing can be done on someone who has cancer or who does not have cancer. You may be seen by a genetic counselor or other healthcare provider to discuss genetic testing before it happens.