For $249, Colour Genomics wants to tell you if you have the genetic mutations that could predispose you to certain types of cancer.
Colour launched last April with its breast and ovarian cancer screening test, which looked at 19 genetic markers, parts of our DNA that have been linked to certain conditions. On Thursday the company expanded the test to include 11 more genetic markers, including those that have been linked with a higher risk of developing colorectal, melanoma, uterine, pancreatic, prostate, and stomach cancer.
Here’s how it works:
- Call your doctor. Because it gives out some serious medical information, Colour requires that you have a physician involved. If you don’t want to include your own doctor, Colour will link you with a physician who’ll evaluate your information and assign you a test — if they decide it’s the right move. Either way, you or your doctor can order the test directly through Colour’s website.
- After registering online, you’ll get a testing kit in the mail.
- Collect your spit, like you would with many other genetics tests. It might feel a bit awkward.
- Send in your spit for Colour to analyse. They will return the results to you and your doctor.
- Still want to learn more? Colour provides a free genetics counselor to discuss your results further as part of its process if you’re so inclined.
Knowing what mutations you have is a key part of understanding your genetic risk of certain types of cancer, a highly complex science that researchers are still teasing out. Other lifestyle factors, like how often you exercise and what you eat, play a role too, but tests like those Colour offers look specifically at your genetic risks.
“That risk is there in your genes independent of whether you know about it or not,” Colour President Othman Laraki told Business Insider. “The way modern medicine is conducted, prevention is dramatically still underweighted, relative to its impact. But it’s a trend that’s on the up.”
For example, the risk of getting breast cancer goes from 7% to an average of 55-65% when you have the BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation. Knowing you have one of these genetic tweaks, then, could ostensibly help you make more proactive decisions, like getting more frequent cancer screenings or eating healthier.
Here’s a chart showing which genetic mutations Colour screens for, and their association with increased cancer risk:
The price of Colour’s test will remain the same, even with the additions. Laraki told Business Insider that the choice to keep the price point was “very deliberate,” as other tests for hereditary cancer risk can tend to run much higher costs up to the $1,000s without insurance (though some, like Counsyl’s inherited screening test go for $349 without insurance).
“The goal is to minimise the cost barrier in terms of access,” Laraki said.