Data Up to Date as of:
On This Page:
Genetic testing looks for specific inherited harmful changes in a person’s DNA (or genetic mutations) that may increase a person’s chance of developing a disease such as cancer. Genetic testing should be considered if personal or family history suggests an inherited cancer risk condition. The test results can help guide a person’s future medical care.
A genetic counselor is a health professional who has special training in medical genetics and couseling. Any person who is considering genetic testing should speak with a genetic counselor before deciding whether to be tested. Genetic counselors can also discuss the risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing for individuals to help them understand their situation.
Healthy People 2020 Target
- Increase the proportion of women with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer who receive genetic counseling to 38.1%.
Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey NCI and CDC co-sponsored Cancer Control Supplement, 2005-2015.
|Overview Graph||Detailed Trend Graphs||Most Recent Estimates (2015)|
|Percent of females||95% Confidence Interval|
|Received Genetic Test Counseling||22.9||12.8 - 37.6|
|¹ Analysis includes females who met the USPSTF guidelines based on family history of breast and ovarian cancer.|
Additional Information on Genetic Testing
For the public
- The Genetics of Cancer. National Cancer Institute.
- Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes. National Cancer Institute.
- Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk. American Society of Clinical Oncology.
For health professionals
- Cancer Genetics Overview (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. National Cancer Institute.
- Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment and Counseling (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. National Cancer Institute.
- Utilization and outcomes of BRCA genetic testing and counseling in a nation commercially insured population: the ABOUT Study. Armstrong J, Toscano M, Kotchko N, et al. JAMA Oncol 2015;1(9):1251-60.
- Panel testing is not a panacea. Axilbund JE. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34(13):1433-5.
- The genetic basis for cancer treatment decisions. Dancey JE, Bedard PL, Onetto N, and Hudson TJ. Cell 2012:148(3):409-20.
- Genetic/familial high-risk assessment: breast and ovarian, version 2.2015. Daly MB, Pilarski R, Axilbund JE, et al. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2016; 14(12): 153-62.
- Clinical actionability of multigene panel testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk assessment. Desmond A, Jurian AW, Gabree M, et al. JAMA Oncol 2015; 1(7):943-51.
- What’s new in genetic testing for cancer susceptibility?. Plichta JK, Griffin M, Thakuria J, and Hughes KS. Oncology 2016; 30(9): 787-99.