Genetic Test

Genetic tests can determine how likely someone is to develop certain diseases (such as someone with a family history of breast cancer), or even whether or not they will develop it (such as Huntington's disease). Huntington's disease is a genetic disease that is caused by inheriting a change (mutation) in a certain gene that causes anyone who inherits this mutation to develop the condition. People in families with a history of Huntington's disease now have the option of learning whether or not they have inherited this gene mutation.

Because these tests are often performed on people who do not have the disease themselves, there are a number of issues that are important to discuss before testing is performed. A genetic counselor is specifically trained to review the pros and cons of the testing (such as the impact it may have on a person’s health insurance) and help each person come to a decision that is best for him or her. This often means asking questions such as whether or not the individual wants to know, what he or she might do with the information, and how he or she might react to either result.