What is genetic testing? – Genetics Home Reference

Posted: July 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a persons chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. More than 1,000 genetic tests are currently in use, and more are being developed.

Several methods can be used for genetic testing:

Chromosomal genetic tests analyze whole chromosomes or long lengths of DNA to see if there are large genetic changes, such as an extra copy of a chromosome, that cause a genetic condition.

Genetic testing is voluntary. Because testing has benefits as well as limitations and risks, the decision about whether to be tested is a personal and complex one. A geneticist or genetic counselor can help by providing information about the pros and cons of the test and discussing the social and emotional aspects of testing.

MedlinePlus offers a list of links to information about genetic testing.

The National Human Genome Research Institute provides an overview of this topic in its Frequently Asked Questions About Genetic Testing. Additional information about genetic testing legislation, policy, and oversight is available from the Institute.

The National Institutes of Health fact sheet Genetic Testing: What It Means for Your Health and for Your Familys Health provides a brief overview for people considering genetic testing.

Educational resources related to genetic testing are available from GeneEd.

You can also search for clinical trials involving genetic testing. ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the National Institutes of Health, provides easy access to information on clinical trials. You can search for specific trials or browse by condition or trial sponsor. You may wish to refer to a list of studies related to genetic testing that are accepting (or will accept) participants.

Next: What are the types of genetic tests?

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What is genetic testing? - Genetics Home Reference

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