When you’re trying to prevent a disease from becoming a life threatening illness a treatment plan is critical for your success. 

How do you get to a treatment plan?

Preventative Care In A Five Step Process

Historically the pathway to identify an illness by physicians is a five step process in preventative care.

  1. Family history of a disease.
  2. Secondly, a physician performs an exam and reviews family history.
  3. Then diagnostic tests are performed.
  4. If a genetic test is ordered, then a causative DNA variant (change) is identified.
  5. The genetic disease is diagnosed.

Finally, a treatment plan is prescribed and implemented for a patient.

In this process, much time is lost and if a patient is not demonstrating signs or symptoms a life threatening illness can be overlooked. This can lead to situations with cancer that are too late for treatment or other illnesses that have progressed so far, they are not treatable.

Screening Model with Genetic Testing at the Forefront of Preventative Care

But in a ‘screening model’ of preventative care, the very first step of this approach is to identify the treatable disease. Often times, these identified illnesses are even treatable to prevent them from becoming life threatening.

This process starts with the genetic test and moves on to treatment faster.

  1. A genetic test is performed that identifies a variant associated with a disease
  2. A physician evaluates any signs, symptoms and/or positive family history of the disease to help better prescribe a treatment plan
  3. Additional exams are ordered to confirm the illness
  4. If the disease is confirmed there is a prescribed treatment plan that is put into action

Finally, if the disease is not confirmed the patient is periodically reevaluated for the disease and any recommended treatment plan is put into action that can prevent the disease from progressing.

In some cases a genetic test result will be ‘uncertain’. In this situation this is why a doctor may order an additional test or re order the test.

Why The ‘Screening Model’ Is A Better Approach

The ‘Screening Model’ presents an easy advantage to the method historically used by doctors. This approach allows for the earliest form of detection followed by the ability for doctors to test as needed, to observe the progression of the identified genetic disease.

It is not proven that all genetically identified diseases will always progress within those individuals. But this allows for anyone who is identified to have this genetic predisposition to take as much precaution as possible to prevent the disease from progressing to the point that it is life threatening.

Seniors have higher risk of health complications as these illnesses progress. For this reason it’s crucial that they identify illness as early as possible, so they can treat and prevent it from progressing.

An additional benefit with this approach are the financial savings a senior will experience. Instead of being hospitalized with an illness that progresses and all of the related medical costs, a senior can invest a much smaller amount into prevention.

A Better Approach Since 2006

Since the federal government approved this via the FDA and via Medicare in 2006 doctors and clinics have had the option to leverage this ‘screening model’. The at-home method of administering this test was later approved in 2015. This was first developed in the early 1990s by the University of Pennsylvania to detect breast cancer.

Since Medicare started subsidizing genetic testing in 2018 for those who meet the qualifications, it’s easier than ever for seniors to prevent illness. It is also beneficial in that seniors can share this information with future generations of their family to help them also prevent life threatening illness.

From the FTC Fact Sheet on Genetic Testing

Link To The FTC Fact Sheet

These are two important facts to keep in mind reported by the FDA regarding at-home consumer genetic testing:

Validity of Genetic Tests According To The FDA And CDC

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the manufacturers of genetic tests; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which promotes health and quality of life, some of these tests lack scientific validity, and others provide medical results that are meaningful only in the context of a full medical evaluation.

Claims Of Genetic Tests

Having a particular gene doesn’t necessarily mean that a disease will develop; not having a particular gene doesn’t necessarily mean that the disease will not.

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