How to Get Genetic Testing
While walking through Target the other day, we passed a 23andMe testing kit display. I made a comment about how the display was half empty to my husband, who replied “Classic. You go to Target to pick up some hand soap and cereal and you walk out with your entire genetic map!” I laughed it off, but also expressed concern. These testing kits are readily available to the public, and people see them as a convenient way to learn about their ancestry and health risks, but they do not necessarily realize that what you learn from genetic testing could be serious and that genetic counseling should accompany a results report.
Understanding your genetic testing options
There are a number of genetic testing options available today. JScreen and your doctor’s offices offer genetic testing through clinical laboratories. There are also a number of direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies, like 23andMe and ancestry.com.
When evaluating what genetic testing option is best for you, it’s important to understand the differences between them. If the goal behind completing a genetic test is to better understand your health and genetic risks for certain diseases, you will want to use a service that will give you comprehensive, trustworthy results. DTC companies offering genetic testing are not required to meet the higher standards and certifications of clinical laboratories, where testing through your doctor’s office or JScreen are. And while you can’t pick a JScreen test up at Target, the process can be just as simple, but with some other benefits, too.
Even within clinical testing, there are a variety of genetic tests available to you. It’s recommended to speak with a genetic counselor to help determine which tests are right for you.
The genetic testing process with JScreen
The JScreen program is the perfect solution to this problem. Like 23andMe, JScreen provides an easily accessible and convenient way for people to learn about their genetic risks, but in a medical setting. And while such testing can be done at the doctor, it is not always as comprehensive and detailed as JScreen’s panels. Through state of the art saliva-based testing, people can learn about their chances to have a child with common genetic diseases through the ReproGEN panel. They can also learn about a genetic predisposition they may have for cancer through the CancerGEN panel. What sets JScreen apart from other testing options is that they provide genetic counseling along with the results. JScreen’s genetic counselors take the time to review the results and options for next steps with each and every patient.
The JScreen process is simple and available to anyone in the U.S.
1. Register for a kit for one or both of the tests through the website. A certified genetic counselor reviews every registration and assesses whether the test is appropriate for the needs of the registrant.
2. A saliva kit gets mailed to the home of the participant, who provides their sample and returns it back to the lab.
3. When the results are ready about 3-4 weeks later, they are disclosed by a genetic counselor by phone or Zoom and are sent to personal healthcare providers for review. If follow-up care is needed, the genetic counselor will make recommendations and will communicate with the doctor so that the patient is cared for properly.
There are other ways to have genetic testing in a medically responsible way. You can find a genetic counselor near you through the National Society of Genetic Counselors or ask your doctor to order your testing. Some labs also offer testing with genetic counseling directly to the public. What is most important is that you are getting tested with someone who knows which tests are appropriate for you and has the knowledge or resources to interpret these results in the right context. JScreen can help.