Genetic screening is used to identify health risks by analysing your genetic makeup to determine the DNA instructions that have been inherited from your mother and your father – hereditary genes that may cause complications. Besides identifying problems related to health, genetic screening may also help patients choose treatments or assess likely responses to particular treatments. Genetic screening results can be hard to understand, but specialists like geneticists or genetic counsellors can explain all of the information about your DNA to you (and your family). Your DNA may have implications for your blood relatives, so it can be shared with other family members. Different types of genetic screening can be used to:

  • Diagnose diseases and likely severity levels

The results of a diagnostic test can identify diseases that are causing illnesses, and can help you in deciding how to treat or manage your health. Genetic screening provides data to ascertain the potential severity level of a disease, so doctors can advise on suitable treatment.

  • Determine the best medication and treatment

Genetic screening can supply accurate information for doctors to decide the best course of therapy and medicine for their patients. Pharmacogenomics’ assessment also gives healthcare providers information on a patient’s potential response to certain type of medications. This will help them dispense medicines that work best with your genetic makeup.

To know your likelihood of developing a specific disease, a genetic test provides data to locate gene changes that causes the development of certain diseases. Such data may be useful in decisions related to your lifestyle and healthcare.

You can screen yourself to find out if you “carry” a gene that is linked to a disease, because although you may show no signs of the disease you could be a carrier. You could have the ability to pass on the genetic issue to your children, who may develop the disease or become carriers themselves. As some occurrence of diseases require genes to be inherited from both parents, this type of genetic screening is usually offered to patients with a family history of specified inherited diseases, or certain ethnic groups that have a high risk of specific illnesses.

During pregnancy, prenatal genetic screening can be used to help identify foetuses with certain diseases, or to learn more about the genes’ contribution to the health of a foetus. New-born babies (one or two days old) can also be tested to find out if they have certain diseases that could cause health and development progress issues in the future. Why should I get a genetic screening? Genetic screening is not just to identify a gene mutation for possible infection, but test results serve as a relief to eliminate some of the uncertainties surrounding our health. The results can also assist doctors in recommending suitable treatments or nursing care, giving patients more information to make decisions about their health or their family’s health. Genetic screening results can give patients the opportunity to take precautions to lower their chances of developing a disease by making changes to their health habits, such as with diet and exercise. It can also help people make informed choices of whether to opt for a baby or not. Limitations aside, there are many reasons for people getting a genetic screening. Although it is voluntary, the decision to have a genetic screening could be emotionally complex so come over and talk to Beverly Wilshire’s consultant physician & cardiologist and we can help you and your family understand the scientific, emotional and ethical issues concerning genetic screening – and how to deal with the test results.

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