KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Until recently, genetic testing has been expensive and specialized. Doctors have used it to confirm or rule out suspected conditions or help determine the risk for diseases like cancer. As technology improves, genetic testing and research becomes less expensive and more sophisticated. Doctors use the data to identify and monitor problems so patients can get earlier intervention and treatment. Some patients find that allows them to address mysterious chronic conditions that bothered them for years.
Researchers also believe analyzing genetic data on a large-scale from millions of people can help develop better drugs and treatments suited to the patient's genetics instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. Several companies offer genetic testing and many of them are lowering the costs. One company called 23andMe now offers a complete genome scan for $99, but it only provides raw data and some ancestry information. 23andme does not provide any medical information. You can choose whether your data is used in research and whether to scrub it of all personal identifying information. There is always a danger of hacking. However, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a federal law that bans health insurance companies and employers from using your genetic information against you.
Other companies will help analyze and interpret your genetic data, usually for a fee. The costs and information vary.
Genetic tests provide you with a huge amount of highly technical data, so you need to work with a medical professional to interpret it and learn how to apply it to your own situation. Finding the right medical professional may depend upon your goal. Geneticists and genetic counselors usually specialize in interpreting data for various conditions such as cancer, heart disease and endocrinology. Integrative medicine doctors, functional medicine doctors and naturopathic doctors incorporate all aspects of lifestyle to treat the whole person. They use all appropriate therapies, conventional and alternative.
Remember that as technology continues to improve, so will research, information and treatment options. Below are some links to online and local resources used in our report. If you have additional questions, please email Loren.Halifax@wdaftv4.com.
Dr. Jeanne Drisko, M.D. and staff
KU Med Integrative Medicine Center,
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Dr. Farhang Khosh, N.D. and staff
Natural Medical Care Center
4935 Research Park Way L
Lawrence, KS 66047
To make an appointment with a geneticist or genetic counselor, call the University of Kansas Hospital at 913-588-1227.
GENETIC INFORMATION NONDISCRIMINATION ACT: