Cancer Genetic Screening FAQs


About Cancer Testing

JScreen’s CancerGEN test analyzes 63 cancer-predisposition genes. If there is a harmful mutation in one of these genes, it will not work properly, significantly increasing the risk for cancer. Each cancer gene on the CancerGEN test is associated with specific cancer types and varying degrees of risk.

In many cases, individuals who test positive have options to reduce the chances of developing cancer, or to detect it at an early, treatable stage. Because we share genetic information with our family members, a positive result may also alert other relatives to consider testing. For those who have had a cancer diagnosis, knowing the genetic cause may help identify other cancer risks and help their doctor adjust their medical management.

Each child (son or daughter) has a 50% chance of inheriting a mutation in a cancer gene. Your genetic counselor can discuss the right time to test your children, as well as options for individuals who are planning to expand their families.

If you learn you have a mutation in a cancer gene, there are many ways to maintain your health and to impact the health of your family. Our genetic counselors will walk you through your options and will review recommendations with your health-care provider. 

Options may include:

  • Increased and/or more frequent cancer screening (for example, mammogram, colonoscopy, prostate exam, skin cancer screening)
  • Preventative risk-reducing surgeries (for example, mastectomy, removal of colon)
  • Lifestyle modifications (for example, reduced alcohol consumption)
  • Options to avoid passing down mutations to your future children (for example, in-vitro fertilization with pre-implantation genetic testing, adoption)

If you test positive for a mutation, you’ll be able to inform your relatives, who may also be at-risk. Complimentary testing for your mutation may be available for your relatives.

No. Most cancer happens by chance, but some are caused by hereditary changes in genes. For example, about 5-10% of breast cancers and about 20-25% of ovarian cancers are due to inherited genetic changes that increase the risk to develop these types of cancer. A person may have an inherited change in a cancer gene even if cancer hasn’t occurred in their family. It is important to consult with a genetic counselor if you think that you or a family member might have a hereditary cancer risk.

JScreen’s ReproGEN test (reproductive carrier panel) is designed to provide you with information about the health of your future children. It determines if you are a carrier for diseases like Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis, many of which appear in infancy or early childhood. Most carriers of these diseases have no symptoms but may pass down their genetic mutations to their children. If two carriers of the same disease have a child together, there is a 25% chance for that child to be affected with the disease. 

The CancerGEN test (cancer panel) is different in that it is designed to provide you with information about your own personal health and determine if you carry a genetic mutation that would predispose you to certain cancers.


Insurance & Privacy

Many insurance carriers will cover cancer genetic testing and genetic counseling if the individual has a personal or significant family history of cancer. However, the out-of-pocket costs differ by type of insurance, regardless of history. JScreen charges a set program fee that applies to everyone, regardless of family history, or insurance coverage or deductibles. Depending on the policy holder’s benefits, the lab may file a claim with insurance for the actual cost of testing. Even if the claim is denied or insurance is not billed, your only out-of-pocket expense is the JScreen program fee. Our generous donors make this discounted rate possible.

It depends on what type of insurance you have and where you live. According to the GINA law, health insurance companies cannot change your coverage, eligibility or premiums based on the results of your genetic testing or the health conditions in your family. Please be aware that GINA’s health protections do not extend to the Tricare military health system, the Indian Health Service or employees of the federal government. Please visit for more information and exceptions to the law.

Other types of insurance, such as life, disability and long-term care, do not have restrictions about using your genetic information to set their plans; each state has its own mandates regarding the use of genetic information. Please visit the National Human Genome Research Institute for more information on the laws in your state.

The GINA law makes it illegal for employers with 15 or more employees to use your genetic information to make decisions about hiring, firing, promotion, pay, privileges or terms. In other words, your employer may not use family health history and genetic test results in making decisions about your employment. Please be aware that GINA’s protections in employment do not extend to the Tricare military health system, the Indian Health Service or employees of the federal government. More information can be found at

The privacy of your health information is very important to us. JScreen follows federal and state privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and regulations (HIPAA), to protect your personal health information. The entities that will have access to your medical and genetic information include: JScreen at Emory University, the independent testing laboratory, and the ordering health-care provider. In addition, if you provide your health insurance information and your health insurance company requests your results, that information would be provided to them. At the end of the screening process, you will be given a copy of your results via secure email.

Neither JScreen nor the testing lab will sell your information to third parties.


Eligibility: Who is eligible for cancer testing with JScreen

While the CancerGEN test is geared toward people who are 21 and older, you can request testing if you are at least 18 years old. For anyone between the ages of 18 and 20, a conversation with one of our genetic counselors to review ramifications of testing at a young age will be required before we can order your test. If you are under 21 and are interested in testing with us, you can register for a kit and one of our genetic counselors will reach out to you.

Yes. We believe that genetic testing may be beneficial to individuals undergoing cancer treatment. However, since your genetic results might influence your medical management, we recommend you find the most efficient testing option before choosing JScreen. When considering where to get tested, keep in mind: cost and insurance coverage, turnaround time for results, and availability of genetic counselors who could help interpret and counsel on results. If you think you might want to get tested with us, be sure to report your health history during registration, and one of our genetic counselors will reach out to you.

Yes. If you want to get tested with us, be sure to report your health history during registration, and one of our genetic counselors will reach out to you, if necessary.

Yes. The CancerGEN testing panel includes cancer predisposition genes associated with risks for prostate, colon, pancreatic and many other types of cancer. Men can also pass on cancer gene mutations to their children.

Yes. The CancerGEN testing panel is appropriate for anyone, regardless of ethnic background.

While genetic testing can help clarify a person’s risk to develop certain cancers, it can also have potential emotional, social, and financial implications. For many cancer types, changes in medical care due to a positive result do not begin until age 25 or older; knowing one is positive before then may induce stress and anxiety and could be an emotional burden. 

While testing is generally not recommended at this time, there are some exceptions. If you might want to get tested and you are under 21 years old, you can register for a kit and one of our genetic counselors will  reach out to review the ramifications of testing before processing your order.