HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in collaboration with Kailos Genetics (both based in Huntsville, Ala.) is offering FREE genetic risk testing for breast and ovarian cancers, as well as a host of other cancers, to all women and men between the ages of 28 and 32 in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan Counties. The initiative kicks off November 8, 2017 and continues for one year. Adults (19+) in those counties who are not 30 years old may take the test at a reduced price during the same time interval.
The idea for Information is Power emerged from a challenge issued to HudsonAlpha at the 2014 “Tie the Ribbons” breast and ovarian cancer fundraising event.
HudsonAlpha developed the project to allow individuals in North Alabama access to information about their hereditary cancer risk.
Phase one launched in October 2015, offering the free tests only to women and only in Madison County, Huntsville and Madison. The results from the first year were powerful: more than 1400 people have been screened, and 4% have discovered they test positive for a gene change that increases risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Half of those individuals would not have been recommended for testing under standard medical guidelines.
Because of the success of the program—and thanks to a generous gift from Redstone Federal Credit Union—the program expanded in 2016 to include both women and men age 30, and to include Limestone, Jackson, Marshall and Morgan Counties.
Redstone Federal Credit Union has again generously provided the means not only to continue the program for a third year, but to expand the age ranges to 28-32.
Changes in multiple genes are associated with increased risks for a variety of cancers. The Information is Power screening program will provide access to testing of a set of genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, linked to hereditary cancer risk. Although changes in these genes are rare, it is important to identify them because healthcare providers can use this information to alter a patient’s care or identify cancer at an earlier stage.
Any consenting adult is able to learn about their hereditary cancer risk through the test developed by Kailos Genetics. Women and men residing in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan Counties who are between the ages of 28 and 32 years can take the test at no cost. All adults 19 and over in the same five counties will be provided access to the test at a reduced cost during the same time period.
Testing can be initiated by visiting the Kailos Genetics website starting November 8. After entering some basic information, you will receive a test kit through the mail. To qualify for the free or reduced cost testing through the Information is Power screening program, proof of age and residency must be returned to the lab with your sample.
This genetic screening can identify changes within a number of genes that carry with them an increased risk for breast, ovarian, colon, uterine, and several other types of cancer.
This genetic screening does not diagnose cancer nor does it replace other types of screening such as mammograms. It also does not tell whether an individual definitely will or will not develop cancer in the future, as the presence of a risk factor does not increase cancer risk to 100%. Likewise, the absence of risk factors identified through this screening does not necessarily reduce cancer risk.
A positive result from this genetic screening indicates that a change is present in a gene that increases your risk for certain types of cancer. It does not mean that you have cancer. The specific cancer types and risk level depend on which gene has a change present. If you have a positive test result, you will receive a phone call from a Kailos genetic counselor to further explain your result and your recommended next steps, which include seeking an appointment with a clinical genetic counselor that specializes in cancer genetics.
A negative result from this genetic screening indicates that no risk-increasing changes were identified in the genes tested. This does not guarantee that you will never develop cancer. It is important to consider that even in the absence of obvious genetic risk factors, each person in the general population is at a baseline risk of developing cancer.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) protects individuals from having their genetic information used against them when obtaining employment or health insurance. Protected genetic information includes family history, participation in genetic testing or counseling, and specific genetic test results. However, it is important to note that this protection does not apply to other types of insurance, including life insurance and long term care policies.
When and where are the genetic tests available?
Beginning November 8, 2017, and ending November 7, 2018, any woman or man ages 28 to 32 in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan County may be tested for FREE. The test also is being offered at a reduced cost to adults 19 and over in those five counties.
They’re counting on you… get tested today.