"Positive" Genetic Test Result

A positive result may mean:

  • You inherited a mutation that affects the function of a gene.
  • You may have an increased risk for a type of cancer and it may change cancer screening recommendations.
  • If you've already been diagnosed with cancer, a positive result may influence recommended treatment as well as future cancer screening recommendations.

A positive result does not mean that you or your family members will get cancer. It means the risk for cancer may be elevated.

What do I do if I test positive?

Depending on your situation, your provider may discuss:

  • Increasing the frequency of cancer screenings. For example, getting colonoscopy more often if a gene mutation for colon cancer is present.
  • Getting other screening tests, like breast MRI if there is an increased risk for breast cancer.
  • Taking medications. Some medications can reduce risk of certain types of cancer.
  • In rare cases, you may be advised to consider a more invasive medical procedure, like removing at-risk tissue, to lower your risk.
  • Speaking with family members about your results.
  • Lifestyle changes that will lower your risk for any type of cancer, like discontinuing smoking and increasing exercise.