The Power of Genetic Testing: Unveiling Men’s Health Beyond Expectations
In the realm of medical advancements, genetic testing has emerged as a revolutionary tool that provides insights into an individual’s unique genetic makeup. While genetic testing has gained considerable attention for its impact on various health conditions, it is crucial to recognize its significance in men’s health. Genetic testing offers a wealth of benefits that extend beyond commonly discussed topics such as female breast and ovarian cancer.
In this blog, we will explore the untapped potential of genetic testing for men’s health and shed light on its invaluable advantages. You will develop a better understanding of:
- Scenarios that genetic testing is well suited for
- Hereditary risks genetic testing can help identify
- Testing options that are available for your patients
- The impact genetic testing can have on making more informed and personalized healthcare choices
EMPOWERING CANCER SCREENING
Cancers such as prostate cancer, are a significant health concern for men worldwide. However, existing guidelines for certain cancer screening often lack clarity and consensus. Genetic testing can bridge this gap by identifying specific gene mutations that predispose individuals to a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
For example, certain mutations in the HOXB13 gene have been associated with an increased risk of early-onset prostate cancer.1 By identifying these mutations through genetic testing, men can take an active role with their health by working with their healthcare providers to establish personalized screening protocols, enabling earlier detection and potentially improving treatment outcomes.
BROADENING THE SCOPE: CANCER PANELS FOR MEN’S HEALTH
Typically, when we think of genetic testing for cancer, breast and ovarian cancers are often the first conditions that come to mind. However, it is essential to understand that BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which are well-known for their association with breast and ovarian cancer in women, can also significantly increase the risk of male breast and prostate cancer.2 Therefore, genetic testing plays a crucial role in identifying men who may be at an increased risk, allowing for early intervention and appropriate screening measures.
In addition to BRCA1 and BRCA2, several other genes associated with hereditary cancer syndromes can impact men’s health. For example, Lynch syndrome, caused by mutations in genes such as MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, and EPCAM, not only increases the risk of colorectal cancer but also raises the risk of prostate and other cancers in men. By undergoing genetic testing, men can uncover their inherited cancer risks, enabling them to take proactive steps for prevention and early detection.3
FAMILY PLANNING: CARRIER SCREENING
Family planning often involves genetic testing to assess the risk of passing on inherited conditions to future generations. While carrier screening is often first ordered for the female member of a couple as part of an early pregnancy visit or preconception visit, carrier screening can also be ordered at the same time for the male partner to increase the efficiency of the process and provide the most accurate assessment of risk for family planning purposes.
Most conditions included in carrier screening are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning both members of the couple must be carriers to have an affected child. One way for men to actively participate in understanding their genetic health and contribute to informed family planning decisions with their partner is to understand their carrier status for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy.
Learn more about carrier screening here.
In the realm of men’s health, genetic testing provides an important opportunity to help men understand hidden risks to their health or family.
“By expanding our understanding of genetic risks associated with various conditions, genetic testing empowers men to take control of their health and well-being. It serves as a powerful tool for informed decision-making, proactive disease management, and personalized healthcare approaches.” said Sydney Lau, MS, CGC, Genetic Counselor at Baylor Genetics.
Through cancer and carrier screening, genetic testing can become a formidable tool in the pursuit of optimal men’s health. Embracing genetic testing can unlock a future where men have the knowledge and tools, they need to lead healthier, longer lives.
HELP YOUR PATIENTS STAY INFORMED, STAY HEALTHY, & TAKE ACTION
At Baylor Genetics we encourage all men to seize the empowerment that comes from knowledge and take a proactive stance on their health.
Learn more about Baylor Genetics’ offerings and how we can work with you and your patients to provide a better understanding of their genetics and how it may impact their future:
- Common Hereditary Cancer Panel
- Comprehensive Hereditary Cancer Panel
- Hereditary Prostate Cancer Panel
- GeneAware (carrier screening)
- Huang, H., & Cai, B. (2014). G84E mutation in HOXB13 is firmly associated with prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Tumor Biology, 35(2), 1177-1182. doi: 10.1007/s13277-013-1157-5.
- Kast, K., et al. (2016). Prevalence of BRCA1/2 germline mutations in 21,401 families with breast and ovarian cancer. Journal of Medical Genetics, 53(7), 465-471.Mersch, J., et al. (2015).
- Cancers associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations other than breast and ovarian. Cancer, 121(2), 269-275.