Genetic testing looks for the changes in your genes. Understanding your DNA / Genes; which contain the biological information that makes us unique, can provide interesting insights into the complicated puzzle of diagnosing, treating, and even preventing disorders. In fact, genetic testing might transform traditional medicine in the future, that is how you and your family would receive medical care. Nowadays, genetic testing finds applications in diagnostic testing (cancer & genetic disorders), predictive testing (identifying the risk of certain inherited conditions), prenatal testing, carrier screening, newborn screening, as well as genetic screening of embryos during IVF treatment.
Modern medicine nowadays has started to include a few genetic testing - during pregnancy, or to assess risks related to hereditary breast, cancer, or ovarian cancer but a little is being talked about the importance of genetic testing in men. For Men's Health Awareness Month 2021, Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Ashutosh Gupta, Head – Foetal Medicine (Radiology) & Medical Genetics, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, Clinical Coordinator for Foetal Medicine Fellowship Programme at Artemis Hospital, MBBS, MS (OBGYN), DM (Medical Genetics - SGPGIMS), to know about the importance and benefits of genetic testing in men.
Why should men consider genetic testing?
One of the most compelling reasons why men should consider genetic testing is that it not only provides general health insights related to risk or predisposition to diseases including cardiac health but also unravel fertility health. It won’t be wrong to say that genetic testing is just as vital as any other test and knowing one's own genetic predisposition can help you to take preventive health measures.
Programs such as Personalized Genetic Medicine are used to discover predisposing risks of developing illnesses like hereditary cancers, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, and certain types of diabetes. Screening, medication, and treatment recommendations are influenced by the results of these genetic testing. This data also helps in developing personalised, long-term health plans and it gives patients and their biological relatives insight into medical decisions they are making now and probably in the future.
4Ps of genetic medicine
As we mark International Men's Day, it is imperative to completely comprehend and learn about one's own body, paving the way to self-care, starting with the 4Ps of Genetic Medicine:
- Personalized: risks are uniquely yours
- Predictive: predicts the chances of developing certain disorders
- Preventative: based on genetic test results and specific lifestyle behaviors, offers healthy solutions to decrease disease risk
- Participatory: requires your involvement
Benefits of genetic testing in men
According to Dr. Ashutosh, here are the benefits of genetic testing in men:
Genetic factors account for up to 15%–30% of cases of infertility in men. These factors can alter the production of sperm or the transport of sperm to the testicle. Knowing the underlying cause of infertility can give hope to many couples who wish to start a family.
2. Genetically inherited illnesses
Genetic testing can also help identify risks of certain types of cancer (prostate, colon, or pancreatic cancer) and indicate the risk of genetic disorders such as hereditary cardiomyopathy and arrhythmia. In fact, cardiology professional societies underline the importance of genetic testing to improve the diagnosis as well as chances of timely treatment of life-threatening disorders that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest or heart failure.
The study of genetic information is very critical as the genes are inherited from the parents and passed down to the children. Predictive genetic testing can be done before the symptoms appear (presymptomatic); unlike routine diagnostic tests that occur after the problem has manifested. Second, early diagnosis allows for appropriate treatment and management of the condition.
Moreover, pre-and post-genetic counseling sessions with a board-certified body can help you assess the advantages and choose the right genetic testing, and also support you with the right information about preventive and management options. In India, a few diagnostic service providers offer comprehensive genetic counselling and testing to help you make timely decisions. This International Men’s Day, take charge of your health and know about your options for genetic counseling and testing.