Are you leveraging the power of genetic testing to help diagnose and treat your patients? If not, now is the time to start.
In recent years, usage of genetics in healthcare — particularly in diagnosing and predicting disease — has exploded. Genome sequencing can help physicians identify a variety of hard-to-diagnose conditions, such as breast cancer and Huntington’s disease.
But a practical application for genetic testing, is in the monitoring and management of pancreatitis.
Here’s how genetic testing works, and why it’s a good idea to introduce it into your workflow.
How Does Genetic Testing Work?
Genetic testing uses DNA sequencing to identify genetic variants that place patients at an increased risk for certain conditions.
The process generally consists of four steps:
Patients share their symptoms and submit family health information, including which of their family members have been diagnosed with hereditary or genetic conditions and related symptoms.
If a patient is exhibiting symptoms consistent with an inherited disease, or if one or more family members developed a genetic condition, a genetic test should be considered and discussed with the patient.
After appropriate pre-test counseling and consenting to the test, a patient can complete the test by submitting a DNA sample, typically a saliva swab.
- Post-Test Counseling
After receiving the genetic test results, the physician and/or genetic counselor discuss the results and next steps with the patient. (If you don’t have a counselor on staff, contact the testing company you work with to identify third-party genetic counseling resources for you and your patient)
What are the Benefits of Genetic Testing?
There are two primary benefits genetic testing will offer you and your patients.
It can improve early detection and diagnosis
When you’re able to detect disease and its causes early, you may be able to save the patient from having to undergo extensive diagnostic testing — which can be both expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, you can begin the treatment process sooner and possibly prevent or delay the disease from developing into more severe end-stages.
It can help you create more tailored treatment plans
Several genetic variants or conditions, such as hereditary pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis, increase the risk of pancreatitis. By identifying underlying, biological causes of a disease, you can help customize treatments and therapies targeting each patients’ specific needs.
As a physician, the lack of treatment options for pancreatic diseases and the difficulty of diagnosing pancreatitis can be frustrating — especially when you know your patients are dealing with pain and discomfort.
Luckily, the medical field is making enormous progress toward identifying and managing these conditions, and genetic testing is at the forefront of these breakthroughs. By including genetic testing as part of your diagnostic process, you can help provide personalized care and bring relief to your patients.