Cancer runs in family. Should I get genetic testing?
My family has a long history of members having cancer. I have two aunts who passed away because of breast cancers (one on my mother and the other on my father's side). My grandpa also died because of colon cancer. My mom found a small polyp in her colon 4 years back and another one in her stomach just last year. Both lumps were surgically removed and the doctors said that my mom is okay now, just needs to be "more cautious". My dad is still going strong but with his smoking, I doubt that he would be alright when he gets a bit older.
I look at my family and I'm scared, actually. So I've been doing research and am considering genetic testing. But I still don't understand it completely. I mean, hơ can a blood test helps me find my cancer risk? Plz help me clarify on this.
First of all, I'm sorry to read about what your family has been through. My heartfelt best wishes to you all.
In answer to your question (quickly, unfortunately). Yes, certain cancers do have a genetic element, this is unquestionable. However, genetics are not the be all and end all. Lifestyle and environmental exposures, among other things, can be equally important determining factors in determining whether you yourself will develop cancer of some sort at any time in your life. For example, my own paternal grandfather died young (in his 60s) from complications related to esophageal cancer. There is no known history of cancer in our family but he had smoked cigars and tobacco in old-fashioned "pipes" for many years (how long exactly, I'm not sure). Obviously we can't say for sure but it's highly likely this lifestyle factor was what led to his cancer and saddening early death when I was still a child and was only just getting to know him; we shared many interests I would have loved to explore and enjoy with him further. My grandmother on the other hand didn't smoke and is still going strong at 94.
Back to your question; what I would say is that "knowledge is power". In your shoes I would probably go ahead and have the genetic testing. I say this because these tests can reveal certain genes that "increase" your risk of cancer while by no means telling you that you'll definitely develop any form of cancer.
The real benefit of this testing is that knowing that you may be at an above average risk - you can do something about it! Changing your diet, exercise regime and other lifestyle factors can more than off-set any risk you may have. Most of these genetic tests and associated reports will suggest in plain language exactly what changes you might benefit from. Speaking for myself, this would at the very least reduce any anxiety I may have about the possibility I might develop cancer at some point in the future.
I hope this goes some way to answer your question and allay your fears.
Hopefully others with more direct experience who may have had such testing and a family history of this devastating illness will be willing to reply also and give you further information on the "best" genetic testing to use etc.
Wishing you all the best,
If you are going through hell, keep going - Winston Churchill
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