If you knew there was an increased chance you’d develop diabetes or cancer in the near or distant future, what would you do now to mitigate the effects of the disease? Or, what if you knew a certain drug wouldn’t work as well for you as an alternative might? How much time, money and anguish might be saved by having knowledge toward a more efficient approach to your health?
The good news is that with the help of genetic testing, these questions are no longer necessarily hypothetical. Genetic testing uses laboratory methods to take a look at the DNA, which are the instructions for the cellular building blocks you inherited from your parents. Tests initiated in your doctor’s office can reveal genetic markers for diseases, help doctors decide which therapies work the best, and identify disorders that may be passed on to children, among other things.
For otherwise healthy patients, your blood is drawn in the doctor’s office, submitted for analysis, and a complete genomic report is delivered back to your physician within a few weeks. As a physician, I interpret the results and invite the patient back into my office for a complete review. “Actionable” results might include drug dosage guidance or strong markers for diseases. A board-certified genetic counselor may step in with me as a guide for the patient’s questions or concerns.
Commercially available genetic tests offer interesting insights, but genomic health screening allows you to dig deeper into “actionable” health concerns, looking at roughly 250 more sequences regarding:
If the test does indicate that one of my patients has a greater risk of contracting any of these disorders or of passing them on to their children, I will work with him or her to tailor a lifestyle and therapeutic plan to reduce the risk of suffering serious consequences down the road. Especially when the report indicates a patient may not metabolize a drug effectively, this alert is noted within the patient’s chart. I also refer my patients to genetic counselors, who can act as additional support as patients navigate their test results. We work as a team to use the information to the best of our ability.
Most of the genetic testing I perform as a primary care doctor serves to help my patients plan for a healthier future. The cost of genetic testing has come down significantly over the past several years and can qualify for Health Savings Account (HSA) coverage. Knowledge is power. If you haven’t already, consider talking to your doctor about how genetic testing can help you plan for a healthier future.
About Dr. Lowery
Dr. Lowery is a board-certified family physician with nearly 20 years of experience. He considers himself an old-fashioned family doc who utilizes the latest medical treatments to ensure the most compassionate, personal and high quality medical care. You can learn more about him by visiting his website at friscoconciergemedicine.com/link opens in a new window. He writes for Combined Insurance in an effort to help educate readers, but his medical opinions and advice are for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for visiting your doctor.