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Having a cancer gene test

This page is about having a test to look for a faulty gene. You have gene tests in specialist clinics. Before you have the test you will see a genetics counsellor. There is more about your appointment at the specialist clinic in this section.

The test is a simple blood test. The time consuming and complicated part is what happens to the blood sample when it gets to the lab.

Finding a single gene is a very complex process. Most people need a relative who has had cancer and can have the test first. This is because finding a faulty gene is like looking for a single spelling mistake in a very long book. Finding the faulty gene in a relative who has had cancer is easier than finding it in a healthy person. The lab will have more of an idea what to look for. So they are more likely to find it.

If your relative’s test shows they have a faulty gene, then you and other relatives can have a test to look for that particular gene. This is a quicker process and the result is usually available within a couple of weeks. If none of your relatives have had a test, it can take months for you to get the result.

Check with your doctor about when you are likely to receive the result. It will help to have some idea, as waiting for results isn’t always easy.

There is more information about getting the results in the next section.

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Updated: 19 August 2013