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Analysing the Pros & Cons of Genetic Testing

An image of DNA depicting the pros and cons of genetic testing.
Anderson Team
November 2, 2021
Est. Reading: 5 minutes

In recent years there has been a dramatic hike in gene testing. You also might have come across your kith and kin who has had their genes tested within a year or so. If you go down your memory lane a decade back, you would have certainly not heard of it. So, are you wondering why?

Genetic testing has become an essential part of health care. As a leading diagnostic centre in Chennai, we always take extra care to offer accurate genetic test results to our patients. Genetic testing can benefit a patient when done with the right guidance.

The transmission of diseases and health to future generations are often dependent on genes. However, a gene mutation is capable of causing various defects in the body by interacting with certain non-genetic factors. Therefore, it is essential to keep our diet and exercise on point.

Now let us learn more about its goals, types, benefits, risks and limitations. Knowing more about the various downsides of genetic testing will allow you to realise what to expect and how to handle the situation.

Understanding The Process Of Genetic Testing

Genetic testing will identify the change in your chromosomes, proteins or genes. The result will help rule out suspicion of diseases or their possibility to pass on to the next generation. According to statistics, more than 77,000 genetic tests are currently being processed and used.

Reasons to opt for a genetic test are:

  1. There is a genetic condition in the family. If you want to confirm that you are not at risk of developing it, you should look out for it in your genes. To rule out the possibility of passing it on to your generations, you will need an exclusive gene test report.
  2. Your child has a disability or difficulty with reaching developmental milestones. It may be due to a genetic condition. You can determine the genetic variant and treat your kid accordingly. Gene editing is also possible for severe health conditions.
  3. You have a previous history of miscarriage or stillbirth experiences. It might be because of a gene variant. You can handle the condition with an elaborate genetic test.
  4. Your pregnancy scan reports indicate an increased risk to the fetus. You might require a genetic test in that case to check the baby's health.
  5. Specific cancers are hereditary, and if it is reported in close relatives, it is always better to check your genes. By doing this, you can postpone or reduce the risk of developing cancer by taking the necessary measures.
  6. If you are doubtful about your health, you can always confirm with a genetic diagnosis. You will be able to live in peace, knowing that no uncertainty is going to befall you. Emotional health plays a major role here.

The first step in genetic testing will be the collection of blood, skin, tissue, hair or amniotic fluid. The sample is analysed for any specific changes in the proteins, DNA or chromosomes regarding the suspicion in our diagnostic centre. We will then send the lab reports to the concerned doctor or the patient directly.

The results can be either positive, negative or indeterminate. The doctor will consider the medical history, family background, and genetic test to interpret the result. A positive test will mean that there is a particular change in the gene or chromosome. A negative test will mean that there is no change in the protein, chromosome or gene. However, an indeterminate result means that the sample did not provide useful information.

Importance Of Genetic Testing

The benefits of getting the genes tested are:

  • If you have a disease with a better understanding of the genetic variant, you will follow the best treatment protocol. Your doctor will be able to guide you better with the different set of treatment options.
  • If you don't have a disease, you will change your lifestyle to lower its risk by knowing the genetic variant. It is of great use in treating and preventing diseases like Alzheimer's way ahead in time.
  • A genetic testing report will offer a great sense of relief when you learn that you are not at potential risk of any health issue. It reduces your stress levels extensively. A healthy mind solves most problems and develops an immunity to health issues.
  • The information from your reports and the decisions you take after performing a genetic test may be useful in educating your family members. It develops a chance to know more about hereditary diseases and its risk.

Also Read: How Safe Are X-Rays & Imaging Tests During Pregnancy

Disadvantages Associated With Genetic Testing

The cons of genetic testing are linked with the social, emotional and financial consequences after the results arrive.

  • The result may turn out to be negative. However, this does not mean that you will not get the disease. It indicates that you do possess a genetic variant. There are various causes and factors to trigger a disease like environmental toxins, food and lifestyle. People residing in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi are at higher risk owing to increased pollution and food habits. So, just because the genetic test result is negative, you cannot be lethargic and confident that you will never get the disease.
  • A positive test result can reveal information about the other family members in most cases. Eventually, this will cause increased stress, anger, depression, anxiety or guilt emotions.
  • There are several possibilities for the gene to be concluded as a variant of unknown significance. It means that it can have a higher risk or vice versa. The result will cause unnecessary mental trauma. Thereby suggestions state that genetic testing is not applicable for weak minds.

Genetic Testing Constraints

You should be well aware that genetic testing will not provide the entire information about an inherited condition. It usually offers details about the disorder's symptoms, the severity of the disease and its progression rate.

A major limitation is the lack of advancement in medicine for many genetic disorders, even if diagnosed. In such a circumstance, the patient gains nothing with the genetic testing.

In a few cases, the changed genes and chromosomes go undetected due to various reasons. Such genetic mutations are difficult to identify with the current laboratory procedures. However, this does not mean there is any change in their genes.

Insurance does not cover all forms of genetic testing. People with financial instability are the ones who are affected here. They will develop social insecurity as they learn that they cannot afford a genetic test.

Ethical concerns play a major role in certain religions and countries, which is again a major drawback. Privacy issues of personal information access to clinical trials is a downside to genetic testing in today's scenario.

Summing It Up

With better insight into genetic testing, you must be wondering how to make a move. Your doctor should suggest whether you can take a genetic test after checking your family and the pattern of the disease. But it is essential to understand the grip of the condition completely and the potential benefits or risks with genetic testing to deal with the test results. As discussed above, make yourself strong to face anything that comes your way. Contact us at Anderson Diagnostics & Labs if you have more queries associated with genetic testing. We will be pleased to guide and support you throughout your entire journey. Most importantly, we visualise creating an exorbitant boon to the field of medicine and saving more lives.

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