Who should have Genetic Testing?
The criteria for genetic testing are constantly evolving as genetic testing becomes quicker and easier, and as we learn more about the genetic basis of cancer.
Broadly speaking, some factors that might suggest an underlying inherited genetic cause for cancer include:
1. Young ages at diagnosis
2. Several cancers in an individual
3. Several relatives on one side of a family having cancers that fit a pattern
4. Particular features of a cancer (e.g. how the cancer looks under the microscope)
When should Genetic Testing be undertaken?
This is a highly personal choice.
For people with cancer, some people want genetic testing as soon as they are diagnosed, as it might impact their treatment. Other people prefer to deal with their cancer first, and consider genetic testing at a later date.
For relatives of a person with a known genetic alteration, the best time to be tested is before a cancer develops, so that strategies to reduce the risk of cancer can be undertaken.
Alterations in certain genes (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2) are not typically associated with cancer in childhood or young adulthood. Testing is therefore not usually undertaken for these type of genetic alterations until after the age of 18, when people can make informed decisions as adults.
Some people wait to undergo testing when they are at an age when surveillance might start, or when they would consider undergoing preventative surgery. Other people have testing when they are making decisions about planning their family.
Additional information about genetic testing services in St James's Hospital is available here.
Cancer Genetics Services in Ireland
Department of Clinical Genetics, Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin, Dublin 12 (http://www.olchc.ie/Services/Departments-A-Z/Department-of-Clinical-Genetics/)
Department of Cancer Genetics, St James's University Hospital, James's St, Dublin 8 (http://www.stjames.ie/Cancer/ServicesTreatments/Genetics/)
Cancer Genetics Clinic, Mater Private Hospital, St. Raphael's House,
81-84 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin 1 (https://www.materprivate.ie/dublin/centre-services/all-services/cancer-genetics-clinic/index.xml)