Your Genomic Data Could Save Your Life

Genomic Sequencing Could Save Your Life. Get Your Data.

Your cells contain an overwhelming amount of data packed into a tiny space. Overall, researchers estimate that each cell contains about 30,000 different genes—that’s about six and a half feet of DNA. And if you stacked all the DNA in your body into one long strand, it would reach to about twice the diameter of our solar system. All things considered, your body does an excellent job of copying and recopying your genetic data to create proteins and regulate cellular function. But occasionally a little mistake slips into the process and one of your genes develops a mutation.

Your DNA has a plethora of mutations peppered throughout your genes. Mutations can be good—such as the mutation for different eye colors—but they can also cause serious breakdowns in how our body builds proteins and regulates growth. Some genetic mutations cause only mild or benign side effects. Others cause the cell to undergo carcinogenesis and become cancerous.

Genomic sequencing is how you can find out what type of mutation is causing the breakdown in your cells and making them cancerous. This data can be a game-changer when it comes to cancer treatment plans. Here’s how to get it and use it to your advantage.

First, talk to your doctor about a comprehensive genome sequencing test.

There are numerous options for genome sequencing procedures, and you want to make sure that you commission a high-quality test. Avoid ancestral, hereditary, or specialty genetic testing. These tests may tell you the origins of your DNA geographically, but they don’t provide information on the specific mutations that are contributing to your cancer. In order to find precision medicine tailored to your disease, you need to receive the broadest and deepest kind of sequencing available, and you need to understand what that test means.

You can receive a comprehensive DNA sequencing test at numerous labs across the country. Our partners page can be a good place to start. Hospitals and clinics also partner with labs that provide these services, and a conversation with your doctor will put you on the path to getting the right test.

Second, get educated about your test results.

After your genomic sequencing test has been completed, make sure that you receive a copy of the results and that you have the opportunity to discuss those results with a genetic counselor or doctor. The names of genes and their various mutations are not intuitive—think of KRAS, MTOR, NRAS, and TP53. If you don’t have someone to walk you through what these genes mean and how they could affect your treatment, then you’ll lose out on the advantages of this data. When you meet with a genetic counselor about your test results, you’re more likely to understand the nuances of how your genes are affecting your body. Genetic counseling is an essential step in your education. You may find our gene stories valuable in furthering your knowledge as well.

Always make sure that you have a copy of the test results from the lab. Obtaining this information is your legal right.

Third, use your data to find the best care.

Owning your genetic data means that you have information about your specific genetic mutations and that you are able to use that information however you please. When you know how your DNA is driving your cancer, you will be empowered to participate with your doctor in determining the treatments that will be best suited to your case. You can also post your data on Cure Forward to get matched with a clinical trial that could represent a desirable option for treating your disease.

The more information you have, the easier it will be for you to steer your recovery path in the right direction. And your genome is the key.

This is your data. Get it. Know it. Use it.