Understand what genetic testing for colon cancer means

Understand what genetic testing for colon cancer means

yes, you can be tested for a "colon cancer gene," but the presence of a genetic mutation for colon cancer does not mean you will get colon cancer, nor does the "absence" of a genetic mutation mean that you will "not get colon cancer. Therefore, genetic screening for colon cancer is not meaningful information for most people. And the stress a positive test can generate may cause more harm than good!

TESTING NEGATIVE: Testing negative is never a "true negative," since the test is not an accurate prediction of one's future health. Some people mistakenly interpret a negative result to mean that they will never develop any form of colon cancer. If other people in your family are being tested at the same time, the family members who test negative may suffer from "survivor's guilt" if other family members test positive.

TESTING POSITIVE: On the flip side, testing positive is not necessarily a guarantee of colon cancer, although there is certainly a greater likelihood of it. The issue of harm should be examined, in the context of whether a still healthy presymptomatic person should sacrifice his or her emotional health. People who test positive are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and hopelessness; strained relationships with family members; and even employment and insurance discrimination.

M. Sara Ronsenthal

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