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Now What? Deciding What to Do (or Not Do) After Genetic Testing

Once your genetic test has been analyzed, you and your physician will sit down together to discuss your result and determine the next steps to take.

  • If your results are negative (no genetic change is found), your doctor will review your personal and family history with you, discuss your cancer risks and determine the best personalized screening schedule.Even if your genetic testing is negative, you may still be at high risk and need additional screening.
  • If your results are positive (a genetic change linked to cancer risk is found), you may have several choices including:
    • Heightened surveillance uses more frequent screenings, starting at a younger age than usual or having a different kind of screening for the cancer type for which you have a high risk.
    • Chemoprevention uses medication to help reduce risk of cancer. It cannot prevent cancer with 100 percent certainty, but it can lower risks for certain types of cancer.
    • Prophylactic (risk reducing) surgery removes the organs that have a higher cancer risk. The decision to have prophylactic surgery is a significant choice that you should make in consultation with a physician.Your doctor will also discuss what your test results mean for your relatives, as they may also be at increased risk and need testing.

Regardless of your family’s cancer history or your genetic risk, you can live a healthy lifestyle and stay current on cancer screenings, two of the best ways to fight cancer and lower your risk.