Getting Your Results

Your results can help drive proactive decisions about your health. No matter what you find out, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, think about a risk management plan and to talk honestly with your family.

Gene Mutation

  • A genetic mutation doesn’t mean you have cancer or will definitely get cancer. That’s an important point to remember, but a mutation does mean your blood relatives are at risk and should consider testing
  • Try to focus on the positives as much as possible and use your new knowledge to inform a proactive risk-management plan
  • Genetic counselors can help you develop a plan for relaying this information to your family and help you decide who to talk with in-person and who’d rather get an email or letter
  • Offering to share a copy of your results with family members can help spark meaningful conversations
  • Remember, each family is unique – no one knows your family dynamic better than you

No Gene Mutation

  • If your results are negative – meaning the test didn’t find a mutation that causes cancer in the gene or genes – your reactions may range from feeling a rush of relief to wanting to ask endless follow-up questions
  • You may want to consider sharing your results with family and loved ones who offered support throughout the process
  • A negative result may not explain a significant family history – talk to your healthcare provider or genetic counselor about family research studies
  • Doesn’t lower your risk – you’ll still need to pay attention to screening recommendations and ways to reduce your lifestyle risks
  • Good opportunity to stress testing’s importance to family members

Variant of Unknown Significance (VUS)

  • A VUS result may be hard to understand – or explain to others – since the VUS classification means that the effect of the genetic mutation isn’t clear
  • Remember that a VUS result is a normal part of testing – and that collecting your VUS data can help develop a test that identifies a mutation in the future
  • Help family members understand that a variant is more likely to cause disease if multiple people with the same condition have the same VUS
  • Suggest that your family members who have cancer talk to their healthcare provider or a genetic counselor about getting tested to learn if another variant in the family may be increasing risk
  • Consider enrolling in a family studies program that may yield information to help classify the VUS as a mutation

Common Questions

It means the genetic test didn’t find a mutation that increases your risk of cancer in the genes that were analyzed. A negative test result doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk for developing cancer. You may still be at risk due to lifestyle factors, family health history, mutations that today’s tests aren’t able to detect, or mutations in genes that weren’t tested.

It means that the test found a mutation that increases your chance of developing certain types of cancer. A positive test doesn’t mean you have cancer and it doesn’t even mean that you’ll definitely develop cancer.

Yes, testing positive for a gene mutation puts you at higher risk than someone your age who tests negative. Your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor can develop a personalized risk management plan that takes both your family health history and personal health history into account.

Your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor can walk you through your results, help create a risk management plan and can also connect you with support groups or other valuable sources of information.

Your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor can help you understand the implications of your test results for your family and whether they should consider testing.

Your test results will probably be added to your medical record, especially in cases where a healthcare provider ordered the test.

But remember, that the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) makes it illegal for a health insurance company to deny you coverage or change your premium based on your test results. GINA also makes it illegal for employers to treat you differently if you have a mutation that increases your risk of diseases like cancer.

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Dealing with Results

Talking to Your Family

Sharing your test results can have a big impact on your family, giving them the opportunity to consider their own risks, and potentially consider genetic testing. Remember, though, that testing will always be a personal decision. No two relatives will have the same reaction and a lot of conversation will play out over time.

Need help starting the conversation? We’ve got you covered with some facts to help get things going:

  • If you test positive for a gene mutation, there’s a 50% chance your parent, sibling or child carries the same mutation. Your other blood relatives may be at risk, too.
  • Your own negative test doesn’t rule out the possibility that your relatives carry a genetic mutation.
  • Either parent can pass a mutation down – mothers and fathers are equally likely to pass a mutation on to their children.
  • If one parent has a mutation, sons and daughters are equally likely to inherit it.

If you test positive for a gene mutation, consider how family members will want to hear and process the news. Some will want to know every detail. Others might prefer to process the news on their own. And some may not want to talk at all. The same holds true if your test comes back negative. Everyone will react in their own way and it can be helpful to work through the various scenarios in advance on your own or with someone you trust.

Next Steps

Knowing your risk can help you make plans for the future. No matter what your results are, it’s important to maintain your health and talk to your healthcare provider about a risk management plan. Your healthcare provider may suggest making lifestyle changes, increasing diagnostic testing, or even undergoing risk-reducing surgeries to lower your risk of breast and ovarian cancer or detect these diseases at early, non-life threatening stages.

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