‘Prevention is better than cure’
is a phrase commonly used by doctors, nurses and even mums and dads. There can be no doubt that it is better to stop an illness from occurring than it is to treat it after it has happened. But how is it possible to know you have chance of suffering a specific illness before it occurs?
Thanks to developments in Genomic Medicine it is now possible to look at each individual’s genetic code to help us understand the risk of developing various diseases and plan how we can avoid contracting disease.
Angeline Jolie, whose mother died of breast cancer when she was 56, brought global attention to genetic testing in 2013 after undergoing test to find out her own risk of developing the disease. Her estimated lifetime risk of breast cancer was 87%, prompting her to undergo a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer to closer to 5%.
How genes impact our lives
Our genes make us unique, but they also give insights into your health history. This is important when identifying serious diseases like cancer, heart disease, and other genetic diseases as these are passed through family genes.
Understanding more about your risk of serious diseases can help you prepare disease prevention.
What is gene testing?
Traditional medical examinations are based on looking at patient history, symptoms, and lab tests. Genetic testing identifies changes in your DNA by analyzing your cells or tissue to look for any changes. This is commonly done by taking a blood or cheek swab sample, although samples may be taken from hair, saliva, skin, or in the case of pregnant women, amniotic fluid. Samples can be taken at home, or at the hospital.
Samples are then sent to the lab for testing and analysis by skilled medical geneticists, followed by a counselling session between the patient and the medical geneticist to discuss test results.
What are the benefits of gene testing?
Genetic testing gives accurate and reliable information to doctors to help them make recommendations for treatment or monitoring.
The main benefits of genetic testing are to :
- Predict future health and enable proper planning to prevent certain serious diseases.
- Reduce the risk of drug allergy and help predict drug response to inform appropriate drug choice and dosage
- Guide family planning decisions by detecting certain hereditary diseases and conditions
Understanding your genes can help everyone understand their and their families’ health.
Common groups that undertake genetic testing
Couples who are thinking about starting a family – genetic testing can :
- discover if the prospective parents are carrying genes that could pass diseases to their children
- lower the risk of genetic diseases in embryos created using assisted reproductive technology
- screen new babies for certain diseases
- find genetic diseases in unborn babies
Anyone who cares about their health, or has a family history of inherited diseases
Gene testing services at Bumrungrad
- diagnose diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and others
- identify genetic changes to a disease you have already been diagnosed with
- understand how severe a disease may become
- help your doctor understand which medicine and dosage is best for you, and which isn’t good for you
At Bumrungrad each test is processed at our world-class accredited hospital lab. After this a genetic medicine specialist can accurately interpret the results, and specialists in all related fields are ready to provide advice on health care and holistic treatment.
At Bumrungrad, we use Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology to analyse the decoding of many genes at the same time. This process is fast and accurate, allowing physicians to quickly use the results of the tests to assess the risk of serious diseases and analyse other diseases now, and in the future.
Preventive Genomics and Integrative Medicine Center offers a comprehensive range of services from diagnosis, consultation, disease screening and risk assessment for inherited diseases and pharmacogenetic testing for drug selection, dose adjustment, and drug allergy prevention. The services are available for people with a family history of hereditary diseases and for individuals who care about their own and their families’ health.