"Negative" Genetic Test Results

There are two types of negative results, "true negative" and "uninformative negative." In both cases, no mutation was identified in any of the genes that were looked at for your genetic test. However, the implications for each type of negative result are very different.

"Uninformative negative" results

Uninformative negative results happen in cases when there's a family history of cancer – when cancer seems to run in your family but the gene that may be causing it hasn’t been identified.

Uninformative negative results mean that your genetic test did not find a mutation in the genes that were within your sample. This may be due to one of two reasons. There may be an undetectable mutation. It could also mean that there is a mutation that is causing the cancer in your family but you did not inherit the mutation.

The possibility remains that you do possess an undetected cancer susceptibility mutation, causing a high risk for cancer. Because of this possibility, you and your family members should still follow high-risk cancer screening recommendations.

What should I do if I test "uninformative negative?"

Your provider may discuss:

  • The possibility that you may have increased risk for cancer based on family history
  • Getting more frequent cancer screenings based on family history
  • Getting other screening tests (like breast MRI if there is an increased risk for breast cancer)
  • Medications that may reduce risk of certain types of cancer
  • Speaking with family members about your results. Asking a family member who has had cancer if they would be willing to have genetic testing may help you better understand your results.
  • Lifestyle changes that will lower your risk for any type of cancer (like discontinuing smoking and increasing exercise)

True negative results

A "true negative" result means the test did not find the gene mutation that was discovered in another member of your family. This doesn't mean you’ll never get cancer, just that your risk is the same as the general population.


While others in the family may have a gene mutation for cancer, a "true negative" result means that you did not inherit it.

What do I do if my results are "true negative"?

Talk to your provider. He or she may recommend having cancer screenings as recommended by the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for average-risk individuals.