In this edition of The Onco’Zine Brief Peter Hofland talks with Holly LaDuca, a certified genetic counselor and manager of clinical Research oncology at Ambry Genetics.

Identifying an individual’s genetic information is nothing new. And while, over the last decades, most people have become familiar with genetic ancestry testing, or genetic genealogy, as a way for people interested in their family history to go beyond what they can learn from relatives or from historical documentation, genetic testing is much more than that.

In essence, genomic data helps to accelerate the understanding of human disease.

Ambry Genetics, is a leading clinical diagnostics company offering genetic testing, which includes screening and diagnosis, for conditions including hereditary cancer, hereditary cardiovascular disease, neurodevelopmental disorders, epilepsy and others diseases.

As part of Konica Minolta Precision Medicine, Ambry Genetics translates scientific research into, what the company calls, clinically actionable test results based upon a deep understanding of the human genome and the biology behind genetic disease. This approach enables more prescriptive, proactive and preventive care.

With an eclectic mix of backgrounds and specialties, a team of doctors, scientists, genetic counselors, lab technicians, artists, ocean-lovers and science geeks, the people at Ambry Genetics are looking for answers using the most advanced technology and quality processes in the diagnostics industry.

This unique team of dedicated people is committed to delivering the most accurate genetic test results possible. And, when it comes to making important healthcare decisions, the company believes that patients would choose the most reliable and comprehensive test for themselves and their family.

But what is genetic testing?

In short, genetic testing is a type of medical test, usually a blood test, that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder, which may lead to a disease.

Generally, there are two main types of genetic testing:

– If you have cancer, the doctor may have told you about somatic or tumor testing. This tests involves a sample of the tumor. The DNA in the tumor is studied to determine if different treatments may be better or worse for the patient. In this case, the oncologists or his or her team will be the best resource to discuss this type of genetic testing.

– The second type of genetic testing is called germline genetic testing and is done using a blood or saliva sample. The DNA in blood cells is studied to see if there is a mutation that causes an increased risk to develop cancer. This test is for both people who have cancer but also for people who do not. And the results can best be discussed with a genetic counselor or healthcare provider to discuss genetic testing.

In talking to the people at Ambry Genetics, one thing stands out. Not only have the people working for the company a diverse backgrounds, they never lose sight of the fact that there is a human life attached to every genetic sample they receive and every result they generate. And they want to ensure that they deliver accurate results that can trusted by both healthcare providers and patients.

For patients, taking a proactive stand about health and healthcare is empowering. So, if you consider a genetic test, talk to a healthcare provider to find out if genetic testing is right thing for you to do. Together with your healthcare provider you can find the best next steps to take.
This is especially important if you think that you may have an increased risk for cancer or another hereditary disease.