As we saw when the blood tests for Huntington’s disease and AID became available, the decision whether or not to be tested hi complex social, legal, and medical ramifications. You may avoid having the test because you fear

• learning that you carry the gene for a type of cancer for which there are no available measures of prevention

• learning that you carry the gene for a type of cancer for which there are no available measures for early detection

•causing family tensions if some members carry the gene and others do not (which is a likely scenario)

•an altered relationship with family, friends or co-workers if you are found to have the gene

• difficulty in obtaining or keeping insurance if you are found to carry the gene

(the Australian Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 does not address gene abnormalities)

•dealing with anything related to your own mortality or imperfections

Professional counselors, doctors, and nurses can help you understand how to use the available tests to your best advantage. From a medical point of view, knowledge is power, no matter how distressing. Your risk is your risk, whether you know what that risk is or not. With a knowledge of your risk, you can take steps to minimize your risk and make better decisions about family, career, and finances.

Your risk is not your fate. Knowing your risk allows you to minimize it as much as possible.

*46/32/5*

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