MyHealth: STEP ONE is a DNA test that examines specific locations within your DNA in order to assess whether you’re likely to develop one of three highly actionable genetic conditions: Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome, Lynch Syndrome, and familial hypercholesterolemia. Specifically, this product examines 11 genes in your DNA sequence to determine if you have a variant—a change in your DNA sequence from what we would expect—that increases your risk of developing one of these conditions. Not all variants are bad, but the ones we are looking for are known to be highly penetrant, and highly actionable. These are terms that you’re likely to hear often when reading about genetic testing, so its worth taking a moment to understand these descriptors.
- Highly penetrant means that if you have one of these variants, your risk of developing the associated condition is very high.
- Highly actionable means that if you find out you do have one of these variants, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects of, or possible even prevent, the associated condition.
To put it another way: if a predisposition to a particular medical condition has “high actionability,” that means that knowing about it can have a major impact on your ability to do something about it. Let’s take the BRCA2 gene, for example, which is one of the genes analyzed by MyHealth: STEP ONE. Certain variants of BRCA2 can significantly raise an individual’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers, among other types. Knowing that you carry one of these variants would be considered a highly actionable insight, because you’d be able to talk to your doctor about what steps you might take to reduce your chances of developing an advanced stage cancer—enhanced screening measures, for instance, that could catch the disease earlier when it’s easier to treat.
It’s important to note that, while MyHealth: STEP ONE is thorough, it is not assessing every variant in your DNA that could affect your health. There may be other variants in your DNA that have yet to be discovered which may increase your risks of developing one of these conditions. Additionally, there are other non-genetic factors that can affect your health, including environmental factors and lifestyle factors. Talking to a genetic counselor can be a great way to learn about these other factors and what they may mean for your future health.
Ultimately, MyHealth: STEP ONE is another tool to help you better understand how your DNA may impact your risk of developing certain cancers and cardiovascular conditions.