The genetic counselor explains what the test involves.
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center has a new genetic test that is meant to show whether patients are predisposed to certain types of cancer. During the test, doctors draw your blood and it is then sent off to be analyzed.
"I call with results in about two to three weeks," explained genetic counselor April O'Connor.
O'Connor said the program started less than a year ago, but already she's seeing an increase in interest as more and more research shows some cancers can be hereditary.
"Though the majority of cancers are not hereditary, there is about 5 to 10 percent chance that cancer in the family is hereditary," she explained.
O'Connor explained that the test is available to anyone. People who have already been diagnosed with cancer can take the test to see whether they could be prone to other illnesses. Healthy individuals also have signed up, including many within the Latino community.
"We see quite a large Hispanic population being tested for hereditary forms of cancers," said O'Connor.
New research shows cancer is now the leading cause of death in the Latino population, overtaking heart disease. This year, more than 33,000 Latinos in the U.S. are expected to die from cancer.
O'Connor explained that Latinos are not necessarily more predisposed to cancer due to their genes. However, because the Latino community as a whole tends to be younger than other demographics, their chance of heart disease decreases and their chance of cancer increases.
However, O'Connor also had another theory as to why the increased cancer rate.
"Maybe that population is not getting their routine screenings?" questioned O'Connor.
"There is higher incidents of environmental exposures like smoking and drinking that is leading to the higher cancer risk and they're in a higher population," she explained.
Without insurance the genetic test costs about $3400. However, O'Connor said some insurance plans will cover the cost.
For more information, you can go to the Banner MD Anderson website by clicking here.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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