Can I find out if I'm at risk for cancer even before I have it?
The first step of cancer prevention is knowing what your risk is of developing it in your lifetime. By having knowledge of what your risk for cancer is, you’ll have a better understanding of what changes you need to make to prevent cancer from taking over your life. After all, as the saying goes, “Knowledge is power."
The good news is that today’s market offers several direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits that allow you to determine your risk for cancer. Being familiar with these kits is important in taking your first step in your journey to cancer prevention.
In today’s blog article, we will cover the following topics:
What is a genetic test?
What are the available genetic testing kits for cancer on the market today?
How do each of these genetic testing kits compare in terms of price, genes tested, testing method, and more?
What Is A Genetic Test?
With the advent of highly advanced technologies, assessing your risk for cancer is much easier thanks to genetic testing kits. A genetic test allows you to identify variants or mutations in your genes, chromosomes, or proteins that can affect your risk of developing certain diseases such as cancer. There are several benefits of taking a genetic test for cancer such as having a better understanding of your personal risk for cancer and being better informed on possible treatment options (if deemed necessary).
Genetic testing for cancer is often recommended for cancer patients, the relatives of cancer patients, or those who have a family history of cancer. However, the best way to determine if you should get a genetic test for cancer is to consult with a genetic counselor to discuss whether or not taking a genetic test will be helpful for you.
Genetic Testing Kits For Cancer
The table below outlines the 6 main direct-to-consumer testing kits that are currently available for the public. A more in-depth look at each test will be outlined in this blog article.
As of January 24, 2023
23andMe offers the first and only FDA-authorized, direct-to-consumer BRCA test1. Their BRCA1/BRCA2 Genetic Health Risk Report allows individuals to assess their risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer through a simple saliva sample.
It’s important to note that the BRCA test of 23andMe is not a comprehensive genetic BRCA test because it only tests for three out of more than 1,000 variants in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. However, while the report is not designed to diagnose cancer, it can still serve as a helpful tool for you to assess your risk for cancer nonetheless.
23andMe’s genetic BRCA test can be accessed through their Health + Ancestry Service priced at $199. 23andMe also offers a 23andMe membership priced at $169 +plus $29 one year prepaid membership which covers their Health + Ancestry Service along with other significant benefits. If you want to learn more about how to get started on taking this test, check out this link from their website.
The Galleri® test is a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test that detects a common cancer signal across over 50 types of cancers that are not commonly screened for at present2. It’s important to note that the Galleri® test does not detect all cancers and does not measure your genetic risk of developing cancer in the future. Rather, its main purpose is to inform diagnostic evaluation based on the detected cancer signal/s found through the test3.
The Galleri® test takes part in three stages4. The first stage is to request the test itself which has to be ordered by your personal healthcare provider or an independent telemedicine healthcare provider. The second stage involves a blood draw that is scheduled ahead of time. The last stage is the final results which are made available 2 weeks after your blood draw took place.
The three main benefits you can enjoy by taking a Galleri® test include early cancer detection, testing with ease, and actionable results5. Another benefit you can enjoy is being able to request for a flexible payment plan if you need assistance for paying.
The Galleri® test is recommended for adults specifically aged 50 and older who have a heightened risk of cancer2. It’s highly recommended that you discuss with your healthcare provider if taking a Galleri® test is right for you. If you are 21 years old or below, pregnant, or undergoing cancer treatment, the Galleri test is not recommended for you.
If you’d like to take a Galleri® test, you can check out how through this link.
Myriad Oncology offers a wide range of genetic tests to help people determine their hereditary cancer risk to help them decide on the right treatment option. Testing with Myriad ensures reduced false negatives, earlier intervention, and saved time and money6 along with accurate, secure, and simple results7.
Myriad offers a wide range of tests, one of which is the MyRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test6. The MyRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test is recommended for both men and women who have a family or personal history of cancer. MyRisk™ tests for significant genes that are associated with your risk of developing one or more of 11 different types of cancer such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and more. Check out this table to see the specific genes they test for.
Myriad also offers their EndoPredict® Genomic testing specifically for breast cancer to help individuals tailor their breast cancer treatment plans and decisions8. Through this test, you’ll be able to identify your risk for breast cancer so that you can become a more confident decision-maker.
If you’re interested in taking any of these tests, you’ll have to consult your doctor to see if you will benefit from a genetic test7. When the go signal is given, testing will proceed by sending a small blood sample, saliva sample, or biopsy to the Myriad lab for analysis. Test results will be available in two to three weeks.
You can find the test ordering options for all of their tests here. The cost is determined by your insurance coverage. Insurance coverage and financial assistance is also available for MyRisk™.
DNAfit’s most comprehensive genetic testing kit is their Circle Premium kit priced at $629 USD. Circle Premium determines whether you have inherited genetic mutations that can increase your risk of developing 36 types of cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and skin basal cell cancer10.
Aside from detecting your genetic risk to cancer, the Circle Premium kit also provides other information such as your carrier status of 157 hereditary conditions, your genetic risk for developing common diseases such as anxiety disorder, your bodily responses to 103 FDA-approved medications, and many more11.
Taking a Circle Premium kit entails four steps12. The first step is to order your DNAfit kit followed by taking the saliva swab at home or where it is convenient for you. From here, you send your saliva sample to DNAfit’s accredited laboratories through the mail and then receive your results within 10-15 business days. It should be noted that the test is only available to those who are aged 18 years old and above.
DNAfit follow the UK Data Protection Act 2018 and are ISO 27001 certified13. They also do not have any FDA warnings or third party certifications. Lastly, DNAfit is available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. If you want to purchase a DNAfit genetic testing kit, feel free to browse their website here.
Ambry Genetics offers DNA genetic tests that screen and diagnose a myriad of conditions. For their oncology tests, Ambry Genetics offers a wide range of testing kits14. Their BRCANext™ test analyzes 18 genes through next generation sequencing (NGS) that are linked to increased lifetime risk of cancers including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and/or uterine cancer15. They can do this through a blood sample, saliva sample, or buccal swab depending on the advice of your healthcare provider. They also have BRCANext-Expanded™ 23 gene panel that are associated with breast and/or gynecologic cancers16.