Genetic testing is done on body fluids and other tissues that contain DNA extracts to detect any gene mutations that may lead to defects. This testing tool has incredibly revolutionized diagnosis of gene mutations that would possibly lead to fatal genetic disease. After that appropriate management measures are mounted to help preserve life and maintain a desirable quality of life. Genetic testing is promising advanced medical care since conditions which were initially left to run their full course and debilitate human health can now be diagnosed early enough to help in treatment even for the non-curable conditions.
There are currently over 2,000 genetic tests available for medical and legal purposes, and more are being discovered daily to assure more certain living status further. Genetic testing can be done on an individual or a family to confirm or rule out a given medical condition after having a study that shows a predisposition to the particular disease by heredity. The type of specific genetic test required will depend on the doctor’s impression following a thorough physical examination and history taking. Direct consumer genetic testing came to be over a decade ago and has had its success as well as challenges. Although genetic testing is well merited and has been useful in the management of some conditions, the downsides are still imminent and having a clear understanding of the bad that comes with the excellent package is crucial.
We cannot afford to look at this miraculous breakthrough one-sided, a candid look at the pros and the cons is necessary for making a prudent decision on whether or not to undertake this procedure.
What are the risks of genetic testing?
Genetic testing has tremendously transformed and advanced diagnosis and doctor’s ability to treat genetically related diseases and its quickly gaining relevance and acceptance among many. However, limitations still exist, and it’s a no walk in the park taking these tests. Some of the notable risks that accompany genetic testing are enumerated below:
- Emotional risks; there is some degree of comfort and complacency that comes with ignorance. Inasmuch as knowledge is power, it is safe keeping yourself void of specific information. Negative genetic test results can extensively affect the peace of mind; being told that you have defective genes predisposing to a given disease while the probability of actually developing such conditions is unknown may do more harm than good.
- Social risks; being branded a candidate for a particular genetic disorder will most likely lead to discriminations at employment. Employers may look down on job seekers proven to be liable to specific genetic disease; this may limit your social circle as well. Besides, insurance companies nowadays discriminate on people who suffer chronic or genetic illness. Cost considerations, as well as productivity, are responsible for such discriminative trends.
- Test results may be inconclusive and not be of any help to the patients. Also, testing will subject to a lot of stress and anxiety as little can be done to revert the situation. Depression is a common incidence in persons who test for defects on the genes.
- Being a carrier does not mean necessarily mean you will develop the particular genetic ailment. Subjecting yourself to such test will only increase anxiety and is often of less significant help.
- The risk of your genetic information getting leaked out from the Genome Company. Critical identity, privacy, and family details can be compromised when they get leaked out by malicious individuals.
How Can Genetic Testing Be Good?
Genetic testing can be advantageous regardless of the results since it helps in planning for the future and putting in place preparation strategies on how to tackle the situation in the event of a positive outcome.
- Clinical testing will provide information that will be vital in the management of a condition and modifying the prognosis. Such knowledge will guide genetic counselors on give the appropriate advice which will help you act in an informed manner.
- Test results are vital in influencing generational decisions for instance whether to have children or not. Some genetic diseases adversely affect life, and one may not wish to subject their children to such suffering in the future thus a decision not to sire children.
- Research testing is crucial in the clinical management of genetic disease as hidden information can be extracted test results and help in the development of treatment strategies.
- Genetic testing gives an insight that tips on the scale of life and hence helps you consider taking critical lifestyle changes prolonging life and alleviating agony associated with hereditary diseases. Besides, a test result will avoid the many speculations that come with symptoms of these diseases subjecting one to many screening and monitoring procedures which have enormous cost implications.
- Identification of insidious injurious conditions that are asymptomatic is possible when appropriate screening tests are conducted; this gives life to newborns as treatable conditions or defects are managed while the parents have time to prepare for the future.
Why should genetic testing be done?
There are several types of genetic testing, and these can be done for the following reasons;
Forensic testing; done to confirm identity and monitor criminal activity. In such cases, accurate analysis of DNA will lead to the proper identification of criminals and prosecution.
Prenatal genetic testing is done to establish the possibility of defective genes in unborn babies and possibly treat or modify the situation.
Pharmacogenetics tests are done and the results are important in determining the therapy course in patients. Individualized care is possible with precise genetic testing since drug pharmacokinetic properties are larges gene dependent. Dose and adverse drug reactions are some of the aspects of drugs that are considerably affected by gene defects.
What are the drawbacks of genetic testing?
Financial implications; the cost of performing a genetic test is prohibitive and it is a limiting factor as to the number of persons undertaking such tests.
Need for informed consent; to perform a genetic test, it is mandatory that the patient hand in a consent document. The criteria may be necessary for children or unconscious patients whereby obtaining informed consent may be impossible.