Southern Seven Health Department offering genetic cancer testing

Local healthcare leaders call it a gamechanger. It's a new, simple way to screen for cancer
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:32 AM CDT
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ANNA, Ill. (KFVS) - Local healthcare leaders call a new, simple way to screen for cancer a gamechanger.

Jennifer Novak, Regional Manager for Genetic Cancer Testing in Southern Illinois, said that the test would see how genetics impact the chances of having cancer.

“The utility of it is to see if there’s a hereditary link that actually could impact not only that family member but future generations,” said Novak.

With a quick blood test, or the swab of a cheek, Novak says the Oragene-DX testing kit can catch cancer in earlier stages than traditional screenings.

Novak said blood is the best option as it also has a result come back, as the testing kit relies on DNA.

“What we look for is a mutation in that persons DNA, that therefore increase their risk of developing cancer. If a mutation is found, we then screen and have certain guidelines to make sure that we take action for these patients to keep them as healthy as possible,” said Novak.

Shawnna Rhine, the Community Outreach Coordinator Southern 7 Health Department, said that the testing kits are now available throughout Southern Illinois at any Southern Seven Health Department.

“We live in an area in the country where we have extremely high rates of all forms of cancer. And with this test it does detect at least 9 different cancers, some of which are not detectable through screenings such as that you get with a colonoscopy or a mammogram,” said Rhine.

Shawnna Rhine, with S7HD, discusses their new genetic cancer testing they are offering.

Novak said that the Genetic testing detects at least 9 different types of Cancers.

“Our testing looks at a wide range of cancers. So we have breast, ovarian, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate,” said Novak.

Depending on which type of test you get, the results come back within 21 to 28 days.

Novak said only about 15% of people actually carry hereditary mutations. But with this test, those who do can find out which types of cancers they’re at risk of developing.

If a patient is positive for mutation, Rhine said the test will know 100% if it either came from your Mom or Dad’s side.

“It gives them an opportunity to get that early detection for cancer so they can start their screenings much earlier,” said Rhine.

Rhine said you do not have to live in the Southern Seven area to get the genetic cancer testing done. All you have to do is reach out to the Health Department to set up an appointment.

The testing is also appointment only. Testing is covered by insurance, but if your insurance does not cover it, the test cost $250.

It is recommended that those who do want to get tested are 18 and over. Genetic Cancer Testing may be right for you if you or a relative (including siblings, children, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents):

  • Have had a rare cancer
  • Have had cancer before age 50
  • Have been diagnosed with more than one cancer
  • Have had multiple relatives on the same side of your family with the same type(s) of cancer
  • Have had 10 or more colorectal polyps found during your colonoscopies
  • Tested positive for a genetic variant related to cancer risk
  • Are over age 18

More information can be found on the Southern 7 website.