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Genetic Testing and Colorectal Cancer

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Could I Be Denied Health Insurance Coverage Based on Genetic Test Results?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 prevents insurance companies from denying health insurance based on genetic information, and prevents them from using genetic information to demonstrate that a health condition existed before application was made for insurance. In addition, many states have passed laws or have legislation pending to address insurance concerns.

Lynch syndrome testing is another genetic test for HNPCC or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer. This type of colon cancer is usually seen in persons under the age of 50. Lynch syndrome is also seen in persons with other types of cancer, especially uterine cancer. Testing should be performed if there are at least three relatives in the family diagnosed with colon cancer, or other Lynch syndrome-associated cancers in two successive generations, with at least one relative diagnosed with colon cancer before the age of 50.

Patients with Lynch syndrome require colonoscopy every one to two years beginning at age 20 to 25 or 10 years younger than the youngest person, in the family, diagnosed with colon cancer. Also, recommendations call for all people with a first-time diagnosis of colorectal cancer to be offered testing for Lynch syndrome if they are under 70 years of age. Certain older patients could quality as well. Cancerous tissue can be tested once its removed to see if the cancer is hereditary. If no tissue is available, genetic testing can be done instead. 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on June 01, 2012
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