CGx Genetic Cancer Screening
Dealing with cancer or thinking about the disease can be quite overwhelming, but getting adequate information about the disease before and after it strikes can be empowering, comforting and lifesaving. CGx is the short form of Cancer Genomics and it’s a test done to determine if a person is predisposed to developing hereditary cancer. All cancers are triggered by changes to the genes in the DNA – these changes are called mutations and the damaged gene can accumulate in the body cells, thereby leading to an overgrowth which could lead to cancer.
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Hereditary Cancer: Different from other Cancers
Cancers that are caused by inherited mutations are referred to as hereditary cancers while those that arise from factors other than an inherited mutated gene, are known as sporadic cancer. The two are different in many ways.
Signs of Hereditary Cancer
Many signs serve as pointers to an inherited mutation in a family. The signs sometimes appear as simple as a member of the family developing the disease. While other signs will require a more in-depth knowledge of the family history to see how many members of the family have come up with a certain type of cancer in the past.
What is CGx Cancer Screening?
CGx cancer screening looks for inherited variants or changes in the genes of an individual. These kinds of variants may be harmful, neutral or even beneficial. The harmful variants present in some genes are associated with a higher risk of coming up with cancer. Inherited gene variants are believed to be responsible for about 10% of cancers that occur in humans.
Benefits of a CGx Cancer Screening
CGx screening for gene mutations linked with hereditary cancer can afford health professionals some vital information about the person to undergo the testing and also other members of the person’s family.
Benefits of CGx Screening for people with Cancer
- This sort of screening can assist women who are diagnosed with cancer of the breast to make surgical decisions on whether to undergo bilateral mastectomy or lumpectomy.
- It can help people that have been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer or metastatic cancer of the breast to decide on the kind of treatment they want.
- Men diagnosed with prostate cancer can decide on the kind of treatment they want.
- It can assist individuals that have been diagnosed with cancer in qualifying for clinical trials that enroll patients having hereditary cancer.
- It helps people that have cancer understand the risk of developing more cancers.
- Finally, it can help members of the family that have not developed cancer understand the risk associated with it.
Benefits of CGx Screening for people without Cancer
- A negative result may indicate that the individual has not inherited a mutated gene and they do not have a higher risk of developing the disease.
- It can at the same time help people understand how to manage cancer risks.
Limitations of CGx Genetic Cancer Screening
CGx screenings are not appropriate for everybody and there are some limitations to it:
- It does not provide a definite answer about hereditary cancer in a family at all times. Some results are even uninformative and they do not give additional information as regards the risk of cancer in the family.
- Not everyone is a candidate for CGx screening
- The test is most times expensive if not covered by insurance.
It is important to note that no CGx test will tell if one will develop the disease. However, it will help one understand that one has a higher risk of developing the disease than most other people. Only a few people with gene mutations will come up with cancer. What this implies is that a woman with about 50% chances of developing breast cancer may not come up with the disease. While a woman with just 25% of developing the type of cancer may have it, eventually.
Role of Genetic Counselling in CGx Testing
Before a CGx screening is done, it is advised that genetic counseling should be done before and after the test. This is necessary especially if the result is positive and the individual needs to understand about hereditary cancer predisposition. This testing is carried out by a professional genetic counselor or any other healthcare expert who has experience in cancer genetics.
Set of people that should consider CGx Screening
If you are concerned about whether your family history puts you at risk of developing cancer, it is best to consult with a genetic counselor. The features of the medical family history of a person that may suggest hereditary cancer syndrome are:
- Diagnosis of cancer at a very young age
- A single person in the family with many types of cancer
- Presence of cancer in paired organs like the breasts and kidney
- Presence of cancer in 1st-degree family members such as the parents, children, siblings of an individual.
- An unusual case of a type of cancer
- Being a member of an ethnic group known to have a higher risk of developing a certain type of inherited cancer
- Having many members of the family with the disease.
If an individual is suspecting that there may be inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome in the family, the best thing to do is to seek genetic counseling, followed by screening. CGx Cancer screening is more informative if it begins in a family member with a current or previous diagnosis than in a member who has never had the disease.
How is CGx Cancer Screening Done?
CGx screening is usually requested by a genetic counselor who has reviewed the patient’s family history. The screening options that a health professional may choose from will include the ones that screen single genes and the ones that look out for harmful mutations in many genes, all at the same time. The screening is done with a sample of tissue or body fluid such as blood. Sometimes, cells from the inside of the cheek, saliva or skin cells are used as samples. These samples are then sent to the laboratory for analysis. The result of the analysis will be sent to the counselor after some weeks. The counselor will then interpret the results to the patient.