What you dont know about genetic testing 

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Myth 1: Female cancers on your dad's side of the family don't matter. Though men obviously don't get ovarian or uterine cancer, and are less likely to get breast cancer, they can still pass a damaged gene to either male or female offspring. "It's not sex-linked," Shaw says.

Myth 2: Your insurance company will mark you, or deny you insurance, if you have genetic testing. "There is federal law and state law protecting people from this type of thing, but it has never been tested in court because there has not been any known case where it has happened. The best way to be discriminated against is to get sick."

Myth 3: Most cancer is inherited, and if you don't have a family history, you're safe. Only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary. "It's the smallest proportion of almost every cancer. Most cancers are caused by life in general."

Myth 4: Why get tested? You can't do anything about cancer. "That's wrong there are many things you can do. It's sad when people fatalistically write themselves off. Because with cancer, if you ignore it and you don't do your screening, it will kill you."

Myth 5: If testing finds you have a gene mutation, you will get cancer. In the case of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, the risk of getting cancer is not 100 percent. "Your risk is increased, but a certain number of people with mutations will not get cancer."

  • Counselor Jeff Shaw takes on five myths that abound today


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