Learn more about what cancer is, what causes it and why it can affect anyone.
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It can start almost anywhere in the body and affects people of all backgrounds at all ages – though it more commonly happens as we get older.
It is usually caused by cells growing uncontrollably which leads to a tumour that can spread around the body.
On this page, you’ll learn
Within these cells are our chromosomes which are packages of DNA. Our DNA contains instructions that tell our bodies how to grow, develop and function.
Over our lives, our cells continue to create new identical cells to support our growth and replace older worn out cells. It’s a fundamental part of our life. The rate that cells replace themselves changes as we grow and develop.
In these cases, the copied cell is not identical to the original. These gene variations occur by chance over time as our cells divide over and over again.
Think of it as copying over an entire encyclopaedia — it’s hard to do without making a few mistakes.
These checks and balances, like our immune system, work to fix mistakes made during the copying process. This helps keep our bodies healthy and functioning.
Sometimes these gene variations result in cells growing out of control and no longer participating in the healthy functioning of our body. Instead they only pursue what they want — to grow and replicate.
As we age our bodies are more likely to make these mistakes and not be able to fix or replace these rogue cells fast enough to prevent long term problems.
These cancer cells grow and divide at a faster rate than they die, which then causes a tumour to develop.
These variations can happen to anyone, which is why everyone has some risk of developing cancer.
Our environment and lifestyle factors, including sun rays, tobacco smoke or alcohol, can affect the likelihood of shifting the delicate balance between new cells growing and old cells dying.
Since families share DNA, having close family members who have had cancer can increase a person’s risk compared to other people their age and gender.
Even though all cancer is genetic, only some of us are born with a higher chance of developing it.
These variations increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, but it does not mean that they definitely will.
On the flip side, people without one of these gene variations can also develop cancer for other reasons.
This is why certain types of cancer are often more common in certain ethnicities. Although, it’s important to remember that cancer doesn’t discriminate and can affect people of all ethnicities.
It looks for gene variations in over 60 genes that can increase your risk of developing some of the most common types of cancer — including breast, bowel, skin and prostate cancer.
By having a holistic understanding of your personal health history, your family history and your genetic risk your lifestyle and healthcare choices can be customised to improve the chances of a healthier future.
Send this to the people you trust to speak to about your health — whether that’s your partner, parent, doctor or friend.
Genetic counsellors guide people in making important decisions around how genetics influences their health. They are not doctors, but are genetic specialists that are trained to identify, explore and explain genetic risk. They can help you be practically and emotionally prepared to make empowered choices that feel right for you.
At no additional cost, connect with your Eugene genetic counsellor to discuss your test results. They can help you understand your results, answer any questions and help you learn more about what your results mean for you.
No. Genetics is only one part of the cancer risk puzzle. Having a gene variant in one of the genes included on our test will increase your chance of developing cancer, but not everyone who has a gene variation will get cancer in their lifetime.
There are many other factors that contribute to your risk, including environmental factors like exposure to the sun and lifestyle factors like smoking and exercise. If a gene variant is identified on our test, your results will include information about the specific gene variation you carry and how it influences your cancer risk so you can better understand your lifetime chance of developing that specific type cancer.
In some cases this test could impact your ability to get life or income protection insurance.
Could have an impact —
Your result will help you and your doctor determine any action strategies for prevention and early detection that might be appropriate for you.
You can learn more about that here.
Eugene’s proactive cancer risk test includes a personal clinical report that will have details about your results, that you can share with your doctor. The clinical report is available for you when you receive your results.
You can also speak with a Eugene genetic counsellor at no additional charge. Genetic counsellors can help you understand your results, consider next steps, and discuss how to share information with doctors and family.
From the moment we receive your saliva sample, the turnaround time to get your results are 3 to 6 weeks.
Absolutely! Each test comes with a post test genetic counselling session. Your Eugene genetic counsellors are all trained and have practiced across a number of specialties in addition to carrier screening and together with our consultant geneticists and widespread network of healthcare professionals, we make sure you’re always connected and supported.
As a healthcare company, we comply with the most stringent local and inernational privacy and security regulations. We take incredible care to use technical, process and physical safeguards to secure your personal information and protect it against misuse, loss or alteration.
Finally, Eugene doesn’t share any your data with anyone but you and (with your express permission) your doctor.
Yes. Even if you don’t have a family history you could still have a genetic risk that increases your own risk. Not everyone who carries an increased risk gene variant will develop cancer, so not every family will have a cancer history. So, while gene variations that increase cancer risk are rare, knowing whether or not there’s one in you or your family could be lifesaving.
Your saliva sample is destroyed after 30 days. In unusual cases when testing takes longer than 30 days, the specimen will be retained until the report is delivered.
We’ve pulled together other things we think might help in this FAQ – if you have any more questions for us, just get in touch!