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Genetic Testing

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Learn whether genetic testing is right for you.

Genetics Testing

What is cancer genetic testing?

Cancer genetic testing looks for specific changes in your genes, that are called mutations or pathogenic variants. They can help determine whether you are at increased risk for developing certain types of cancer in your lifetime, including:

  • Breast
  • Colorectal
  • Endometrial
  • Ovarian
  • Prostate
  • Pancreatic
  • Melanoma

Are you a candidate for genetic testing?

You may be a candidate for genetic testing, if you have a personal or family history of cancer or meet any of the following criteria:.

  • Cancer that was diagnosed at a young age (˂50)
  • Rare cancers in your personal or family history
  • Several different types of cancer that have occurred independently (not due to spread or metastasis from the original site-)
  • Several close blood relatives who have the same or different types of cancer

Rare cancers in your personal or family history (ovarian, pancreatic, metastatic prostate cancer)

How is genetic testing done?

Genetic testing is done with a sample of blood or saliva collected at a Penn State Health phlebotomy lab or in the comfort of your home. We send the sample to the genetics laboratory for analysis, which takes about four weeks to complete. Once the analysis is done, your genetic counselor will contact you to discuss the results. We’ll send a letter detailing your personal and family history of cancer, your test results and management recommendations to you and your health care provider.

Take our screening quiz

Click here to take the quiz to find out if you’re a candidate for genetic testing:

Knowledge is power

If you’re identified as having an increased risk for cancer, your health care provider will suggest ways to manage that risk:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Enhanced surveillance (ie, breast MRI, colonoscopy)
  • Chemoprevention (medications that lower your risk of cancer)
  • Risk-reducing surgery (ie, removal of the breasts or ovaries)


Contact the Penn State Cancer Institute Genetics Program by calling 717-531-1631. A genetic counselor is just a call away.