Viewpoint: I wish I learned about my breast cancer risk from a genetic counselor instead of 23andMe

dorothy pomerantz
Image: Dorothy Pomerantz

I opened the email from 23andMe, saying a report was ready for me to read. That click changed my life forever: To my utter shock, the results showed that I have a mutation in a gene called BRCA1, which puts me at a huge risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. I broke into tears.

I’m not the first person to get surprising and terrible news from an at-home genetic testing company. With the increasing popularity of 23andMe, and other companies like it, I won’t be the last.

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At Cedars-Sinai, my doctor said I shouldn’t make any decisions based on the 23andMe test. While the company says its reports are 99% accurate, most doctors want confirmation from a second source. So she introduced me to a genetic counselor.

Talking to someone about the results versus reading them in an online report — even after wading through a long tutorial — was the difference between day and night. 

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I believe that knowledge is power and I’m glad I can read the story my genes have to tell. I just wish that everyone could have an interpreter when the story turns dark.

Read full, original post: 23andMe had devastating news about my health. I wish a person had delivered it

Related article:  The danger of using DNA tests to make life-or-death decisions for your dog
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