Mercy Health encourages genetics testing to know health risks

Press Staff Writer

        Knowing your family history can give important information on how to manage your health and Mercy Health is offering a reminder for everyone to think about getting a genetic health test.
        Cancer is caused by certain changes to our genes that alter the way our cells function, especially how cells grow and divide within our body. Unfortunately, one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Because of this, family history is extremely important in assessing your risk of developing cancer.
        “Learning about diseases that run in your family can empower you to get life-saving screenings and preventive care,” said Michelle Hall, lead genetics counselor with Mercy Health. “While cancer itself can’t be passed down from parent to child, a genetic change that increases one’s risk of cancer can be inherited, which is why cancer sometimes appears to run in families. Getting an assessment of family and medical histories can help determine the chance of disease occurrence.”
        Genetic counseling is conducted by a specialist to provide an assessment for patients or family members at risk of certain cancers. Following the screening, patients are advised of the consequences and nature of the genetic mutations, the probability of developing cancer and the options open to them in management and family planning.
        Inherited genetic mutations may play a role in as much as 10 percent of all cancer cases, and genetic tests for hereditary cancer syndromes can identify these mutations early to increase chances of early detection and survival. Mercy Health genetic counselors work with patients to help you understand any potential hereditary risks facing you and your family members.
        Genetic testing is often as simple as a quick saliva or blood test. Costs may vary based on insurance coverage and who meets the criteria. Self-pay options are available for as low as $250.
        “Genetic testing can identify high-risk individuals so that they can be offered increased screening, genetic counseling and comprehensive education about preventative options,” Hall said. “Learning about your family’s history can be as helpful for long term care as regular preventative screenings and annual wellness visits.”
        Genetic counseling is available locally. These sessions include risk assessment based on your family history, education about hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing when appropriate, and guidance on cancer screenings and risk reduction.
        For more information about genetic cancer risk services, visit


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