Genetic Testing


There are many devastating diseases that are linked to or caused by genes. Cystic Fibrosis for instance is a fatal disease that results when a mother and father each pass the gene for cystic fibrosis to their child. Other diseases, like breast cancer, also have genetic links. The presence of the gene or genes does not mean you have the disease, but it could put you at higher risk for developing it.

Genetic testing is an extremely powerful new medical tool that can diagnose and predict these gene-related diseases. For example, if a doctor suspects a patient has sickle-cell anemia, a genetic test can confirm the diagnosis so the proper treatment can begin.

The power provided by gene testing must be used very carefully and be supported by genetic counseling. Counselors help patients and their families fully understand the consequences of their test results and the difficult decisions that follow. Counselors help patients understand that carrying the gene for a disease does not mean they have the disease, and they guide patients through their medical options. For example, if a woman tests positive for the breast cancer gene, she has options ranging from the radical (having her breasts removed in order to prevent any possibility of developing the disease) to adopting a "wait and see" attitude.

Explore More: Genetic Engineering
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.

















Currently Available Tests
Some gene tests available as of 1998 from clinical genetics laboratories approved by New York State. More

Genes & Jobs
Do you have the right genes for the job? Employers could use genetic testing to find out. More

Ensuring Genetic Privacy
Genetic testing is a powerful tool that currently can reveal important information about an individual's health. But... More

PBS Newshour Online Links

Ethical implications of genetic information