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By Jeanne Novas, MD 

I recently attended a University of Chicago sponsored Genetics conference with the goal to improve early cancer detection and prevention. Thanks to changes in insurances and pre-existing conditions, and a Supreme Court ruling denying patent rights to lab companies, genetic testing is now affordable and may be covered by insurance. It also may change your health care management of menopause and cancer screening. 

Family history of breast, brain, thyroid, colon, uterine, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic cancer, infertility, and multiple myeloma are a few cancers and patient histories that may increase your risk. Knowing your testing for currently 64 different genes may increase early detection and prevention of these cancers, for you and your family.

We as OBGYNS are the doctors who can screen their patients – we know you and your family and see the moms who are interested not only for themselves but their family members. Genetic counselors have had a low rate of impact on this screening method. Now is the time for us to offer screening to our patients. We urge you do so with our counseling and guidance. Often the person getting tested will have to verify their family history and offer the news to other family members. We will provide that support and guidance. 23 and me® home testing is not recommended due to misinterpretation of incomplete results, with no follow up. Negative testing does NOT mean no risk. Also, genes are in a database as new discoveries are happening, and patients may be contacted in the future. These findings can have psychological impact on patients and families. Your OBGYN is the best person to discuss with. 

If you are considering genetic testing, we recommend you make your annual appointment, discuss at your visit, and then consider a genetic consultation with us. A 2 week follow-up appointment is also required. The time is now to review your genetic risks with your OBGYN.

– Jeanne Novas, MD