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Health Spotlight | Equality in health care: genetic testing for everyone

Health Spotlight | Equality in health care: genetic testing for everyone

SAN DIEGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Genetic testing looks at changes in a person’s DNA.

With a simple test, researchers can find out if you have a genetic condition and determine your chances of developing or passing on deadly diseases, such as breast, ovarian and colon cancers, cystic fibrosis, even heart disease.

But, these tests can be costly, and some people can’t afford them. Now, the move is on to make genetic testing accessible to everyone.

Genetic testing – a simple blood draw or saliva sample – can identify opportunities for prevention, single out the best clinical trials, and improve treatment outcomes.

Dr. Stephen Gruber, chair of the Center for Precision Medicine at City of Hope in Maryland, said, “We actually recognize that it’s going to be the most cost-effective care as well.”

A test can cost hundreds of dollars and is sometimes not covered by insurance. Now, City of Hope is one of the first cancer centers in the world to offer free genetic testing to every single patient, and possibly their immediate families.

Bita Nehoray, genetic counselor manager at City of Hope, said, “Someone I recently spoke to who was identified to have a genetic change that increased her risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and we got those results in just before she was about to start chemotherapy, and it actually changed things for her, and we were able to offer her a more appropriate and better line of therapy.”

The panel tests 189 genes related to the risk of cancer and other inherited diseases.

Nehoray said, “It’s been a tremendous game changer, as it relates to prevention in families, but also in really personalizing the most appropriate treatment plan.”

Taking part in the genetic testing is completely free to the patients. City of Hope will soon begin offering the INSPIRE study testing nationwide in their locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Phoenix.

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network. Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, producer; Matt Goldschmidt, videographer; Roque Correa, editor.