One of the most exciting developments in the medical field is the advancement of genetic testing. Before the advent of this form of testing, the only way to predict hereditary diseases was by family history which could be erratic since sometimes the diseases or conditions skip generations. However, the mapping of the genome combined with the identification of defective genes has allowed doctors access to vital information that makes predicting the development of a genetic condition much more viable
The Pros of Genetic Testing
There are a number of benefits to the use of genetic testing which has led to many thousands of people lowering and even avoiding their risk of contracting certain types of diseases.
Lower Risk of Contracting Diseases:
The main benefit of this form of testing is that doctors can now combine different information to make predictions of what might develop in your body and subsequently take preventative action. This is especially true of cancer which is often caused by abnormal genes which starts the progress of the disease.
Greater Focus on Prevention:
For those who are genetically tested at an early age, risks that might develop in their later years can be predicted on a more accurate basis so that a person can come back for more frequent examinations. In the case of breast cancer for example, mammograms can be held more frequently to spot the disease in its early stages when it is nearly 100% curable.
In some cases, preventative action can be taken to dramatically lower the chances of developing certain diseases. The removal of breast tissue and the ovaries for example can help greatly lower the risk of developing these particular forms of cancer.
The Cons of Genetic Testing
Despite the great strides that genetic testing has brought to the medical profession, it is not a “cure-all” for those who may suffer from disease in the future.
Indecision About Taking Action:
Arguably the biggest downside is that while identifying potential illnesses and diseases is now easier, the difficult part is selecting which action should be taken. From taking medications to the removal of the tissue, the effectiveness of the preventative actions is such that it does not mean that the disease will not occur.
Lower, but Not Eliminate Risk:
The removal of the breasts for example does not actually prevent the development of breast cancer because there are still breast cells that remain. So, while the chances of developing certain forms of cancer are greatly lowered, they are not 100% preventable just because most of the tissue is removed.
Overlook Abnormal Genes:
A test result that comes back indicating all healthy genes does not mean that the chances for developing diseases are gone. In fact, there are many cases of breast cancer that occurred in patients who had repeatedly come back with clean genetic testing results.
Essentially, this means that the genetic testing process is really still in its early stages and is not the final word in prevention. However, it does offer another tool that can be used in the prevention of certain diseases and particularly cancers from forming.