Healthbeat 4: Benefits of genetic testing - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Healthbeat 4: Benefits of genetic testing

(NBC News) -

You have cancer -- words no one wants to hear. What if it's your mom and your sister, are you next?

"About 90% of all cancer is not genetic, only 10% of cancer is actually due to a gene that we inherit from our mom or a dad," said Nicole Wood, genetic counselor. 

Jackie Bland chose to get genetic testing when her sister was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, a form of colorectal cancer. 

"I was extremely nervous when I came in because my sister and I have mostly the same characteristics out of the four of us," said Jackie Bland, patient. 

Luckily, bland is in the clear. And if it was positive, she'd get a head start.

genetic counselor Nicole Wood says that's the goal.

"To detect something at a precancerous or stage 0 disease so that it never becomes actually life threatening," said Wood.

You start with family history -- a road map.

"We can tell you which cancers you're at risk for and what those risks are, is it 5 percent or 50 percent," said Wood.

Next, is prevention.

"Monitor more closely with mammograms and breast MRIs more frequently every 6 months and at age 25, now compare that to a mammogram every year starting at age 40," said Wood.

What about a mastectomy?

"It depends on their personal experience with their family, their age, how concerned they are, and what their goals are for the future," said Wood.

Knowing the risks can be scary, but it can also save your life.

"It can determine prevention and other risk factors that we wouldn't otherwise consider."

"You wanna take every step to improve your health," said Bland. 

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