Can a DNA Kit Predict Colorectal Cancer?

By Staff Writer - February 08, 2019

Consumer DNA testing has grown in popularity over the past two years. DNA test kits allow for a helpful overview of your ancestral history, and they have even advanced to detect risks for developing various conditions and diseases.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approval for the DNA testing company 23andMe to notify users of three specific BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations which may correlate with breast cancer.  

Now, 23andMe has received FDA clearance to test for genetic mutations that may increase your risk of colorectal cancer. The new test looks for two gene variants in the MUTYH gene.

However, this simple test only gives you a limited glimpse into your cancer risk factors. “While this test can detect the two variants that are most common in the MUTYH gene, there are over 100 variants in this gene that are known to cause an increased risk for cancer,” said Moffitt Cancer Center certified genetic counselor Christine Steele. Additionally, other genes also associated with colorectal cancer are not tested with direct-to-consumer (DTC) kits.

“DTC testing is not considered a diagnostic test, and clinical genetic testing is recommended to confirm the test result,” said Carolyn Haskins, a certified genetic counselor at Moffitt. You may get a negative DNA test result, but it does not mean that you will not get colorectal cancer.

Weight, family history, exercise, diet and smoking are factors that may affect a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. Options for medical and lifestyle modifications that may be able to reduce someone’s risk for colorectal (or other types) of cancer can be discussed with a physician.

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