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Genetic Vs Genomic Testing


The two terms are often comingled in conversation and or interchangeably used. Yet, their meanings differ.


Genetic testing is used to understand one's predisposition for certain disease states. Where there is a need to know one's genetic makeup (genetic pool) because we inherit genes from both sides of our family. This is why it is good to know your family history. Knowing this will help assess certain risk factors for diseases that may be prevalent in your family history. For instance, if you have a family history of breast cancer you should be tested for the Braca 1 Gene. This would be a genetic test. These tests like your family history also yield information supporting the need to take prophylactic (preventive) measures.


For communities of color, African Americans in particular knowing one's family history presents unique problems. These problems are rooted in systematic racism/slavery, poor ancestry record keeping, literacy, cultural normalcy (the use of acronyms in place of medical terms), fear (taboo), and stigmas about cancer.


Genomic testing however is relative to a cancer diagnosis. It serves to determine the way cancer is likely to behave. It is the study of the entirety of an organism's genes – called the genome. It looks more closely at the cancer genes themselves. This test helps determine one's best course of treatment. For instance, it helps in determining whether the cancer will behave more aggressively, whether it's likely to spread, etc. In essence, it can aid in prompting more individualized and targeted therapies and prognosis.


If you have an interest in either of the two discuss it with your doctor. *This post is for informational purposes only.


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