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Berita Harian – March 22, 2022

Genetic testing can be done either through blood or saliva tests to determine either an individual will be at risk of being a carrier of hereditary cancer. Before undergoing the test, the individual should consult with a genetic counselor first for views and advice.

Beacon Hospital Genetics Counsellor, Yoon Sook Yee, said an individual’s genetic changes, whether hereditary, can be tested by doing genetic testing. He said the test could identify which genes are damaged, which may increase the risk for the carrier.

“However, the individual needs to consult with a genetic counselor first to get genetic counseling. This counseling aims to get accurate information and psychosocial support to anyone who wants to undergo genetic testing,” she said.

Perform genetic testing, seek appropriate treatment, high-risk for immediate family

Sook Yee said the main purpose of undergoing genetic testing is to identify if the individual carries the genetic changes that may increase the risk for certain types of cancer.

If it is indeed confirmed they are the carrier, they need to monitor and have regular check up to reduce the risk. All information regarding the test will be provided by the genetic counsellor.

Individuals eligible for the genetic testing are those who had cancer at a young age or have a few family members who have had several types of cancer.

Sook Yee said, 50% of children carry genetic changes if their mother or father is a carrier. Maternal siblings from the same parents may also be carriers and have a higher risk of getting cancer.

Understand cancer risk and gain access to genetic counseling

Sook Yee added, the results of genetic testing produced genetic profile and from there they can understand better the risk of getting cancer. She said that if an individual already aware on the risks involved, they can start planning to consult with a specialist to get an early intervention plan or to monitor the risks.

“As the President of the Genetic Counselling Society of Malaysia, I hope to increase access to genetic counseling more widely to the public. Currently, the challenge is that the number of counselors is too little, thus reducing the opportunity to help people understand the risk of cancer and the purpose of genetic testing,” she said.

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