About

Genetic testing for cancer

If you have reason to suspect that you or someone you know may be at risk for hereditary cancer, genetic testing may be a helpful option. Testing is not necessary for everyone, but you may be a candidate if you:

  • Have a family history of cancer
  • Belong to an at-risk population
  • Have a personal history of cancer

Take our self-assessment quiz to learn more about your risks for hereditary cancer syndromes.

Learn more from our Genetic Testing FAQ.

The benefits of getting tested

There are many good reasons for getting tested, whether or not the results show you are at risk.

If you have a family member who had cancer—even a cousin or other third-degree relative—there is a chance that a gene mutation may be present in your family. If so, this may not only increase your personal risk, it means the risk could be passed along to the next generation.

Someone who carries a gene mutation associated with hereditary cancer may get cancer much earlier in their life than someone in the general population, so the earlier testing can take place, the easier it is to manage the risk.

Your personal healthcare provider is your best resource for information and advice about screening for hereditary cancer. He or she can help you decide if you might benefit from the test. Use this easy physician finder to locate a provider near you.

Learn about your the testing process. >

Learn more about insurance coverage. >

How genetic testing works

A genetic test requires a sample of your DNA, which is present in the cells that make up your body. Learn more about genes, DNA, and heredity.

Your doctor will take a small blood sample from you, or will ask you to use a special mouth wash to collect a sample of saliva. The sample will be sent to Myriad Genetic Laboratories, a company that specializes in genetic testing for HBOC, Lynch syndrome, hereditary melanoma, polyposis syndromes, and hereditary pancreatic cancer.

Once the sample is received at the lab, they are able to isolate the DNA and test for alterations within specific genes.