HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in collaboration with Kailos Genetics (both based in Huntsville, Alabama) is offering FREE genetic cancer 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 to 30 in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan Counties. The initiative kicks off November 7, 2019, and continues through November 7, 2020. Adults (19+) in those counties who are not within the age range of 28 to 30 years old may take the test at a reduced price during the same time interval. There is also an opportunity to GIFT A TEST to someone you care about and could benefit from this information.

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 cancer risks.

Phase one launched in October 2015, offering free tests to women in Madison County, Huntsville and Madison. The results from the first year were powerful: more than 1400 people were screened, and 4% have discovered they test positive for a gene change that increases the risk of developing cancer. Based on personal and family history information provided by these patients, half of the positive patients to date would not have been recommended for testing under standard medical guidelines. To date, almost 4,200 Alabamians have more information about their genetic cancer risk. Thanks to a donation from the Russel Hill Foundation, we can continue providing answers to the community for another year.

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 several dozen 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 (19+) is able to learn about their 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 to 30 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 of $129 during the same time period.

Testing can be initiated by visiting the Kailos Genetics website. 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.

Thank you for giving the gift of information. First, click the GIFT button and fill out the information. Next, you will then receive an electronic Gift card with a special unique code. Once you receive the code, you can then forward the Information is Power test card to the person you would like to receive the test.

Upon receiving the gift notification, the recipient will then go directly to the Kailos website and order the test with the unique code.

Restrictions: Two states that are excluded from this offering (New York and Maryland). Individuals 19+ that reside within the other 48 states are eligible.

Finally, a notification that the test has been ordered will be sent to the giftee. A card will be mailed to your address so that you can give this to your loved one. It has a unique code that they will enter on the test order page. 

This genetic screening can identify changes within a number of genes that carry with them an increased risk for breast, ovarian, colon, and several other types of cancer.

This genetic screening may or may not find a known genetic risk factor. A negative result does not rule out the chance you have the known genetic change in the family. However, you can still use this test to have other cancer genes screened. If you or a family member have had previous genetic testing that found a risk factor in one of the genes, a clinical genetic counselor can help coordinate testing specifically for the known genetic change.

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 depending 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.