Two Factors to Take Into Account if You're Considering Having a Genetic Screening Test

There are many factors that you'll have to take into account when you're considering if you should get a genetic screening test to check for gene mutations. Here are some of those factors.

Whether or not knowing you have a genetic mutation will empower you or make you feel helpless

You'll need to think about whether or not the knowledge that you have a gene mutation will help you to feel empowered and better able to take care of your health (which is the case for many people who have this screening test) or whether it might make you feel helpless.

The way in which you will feel about receiving confirmation that you have a genetic mutation will depend on several things, including whether or not there are cures or treatments for the illness that it causes. For example, if you go to a genetic screening clinic and request a test for Huntington's disease and this screening service reveals that you have this mutation, then you might feel helpless, due to the current lack of treatments for this condition.

On the other hand, knowing that you have this gene and being aware of your future will look like as a result of it may encourage you to pursue the goals that you have been putting off and perhaps achieve a higher quality of life, due to the motivation it gives you to fulfil your dreams, whilst you are still physically able to do so.

Likewise, if you get a positive test result from the clinic for either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, then you will have specific actions that you can take to try to stay healthy (such as, for example, having an oophorectomy to prevent ovarian cancer). Whilst these treatments will be challenging, knowing that by having them, you're doing everything you can to protect yourself, could feel very empowering.

Whether or not you have access to a long-term support system

You'll also need to consider whether you have an adequate, long-term support system that you can rely on indefinitely, should the genetic screening clinic confirm that you have a disease-causing genetic mutation. For example, if you're currently studying abroad and don't have any family or close friends in this country, you might want to consider waiting until you return home to use a genetic screening clinic's services. Likewise, if your partner is working away from home for the next few months, you should wait for them to come back from this business trip before visiting the clinic.

Whilst the screening clinic and your own GP will be able to provide you with plenty of practical support if you find out you have a genetic mutation, you will also need people in your personal life that you can talk to and lean on emotionally during the months after your diagnosis, as during this period, you will probably experience a lot of turmoil, fear and confusion. If you're isolated whilst you're going through this rollercoaster of emotions and having various medical treatments, your mental health will almost certainly decline.

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