An inconclusive genetic test result: what does it mean?

Questions you can ask to help understand

An inconclusive genetic test result is called a VUS, for genetic variant of unknown significance

Genetic test results are either positive, negative, or less commonly, VUS. This stands for genetic variant of unknown significance.

Most results of genetic testing for inherited susceptibility for cancer are either negative (meaning no gene mutation or change was found) or positive (meaning a gene mutation that causes an increased risk for cancer was found). However, a small portion of tests result in an inconcolusive genetic test result, or what is termed a variant of unknown or uncertain significance, or VUS.

A VUS is a change in the normal sequence of a gene, where the significance of the change is unclear until further study of a sufficiently large population. Complete gene sequencing often identifies many variants for a given gene. Continue reading

Dia De La Familia Latina this Sunday, October 4

A free, fun event for all ages

Dia De La Familia LatinaThis free Latino-focused family event takes place during National Hispanic Heritage Month and features entertainment, games, crafts, food and face painting! Health information addressing mental, physical, and social issues in the Latino community will be available. Dia De La Familia Latina is sponsored by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Ann Arbor District Library. Información del evento en español (PDF).
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The coconut craze: join or resist?

coconutIn the past few years, coconuts have taken on the status of “superfood.” Just search online and you will end up with a laundry list of diseases that can be treated with various coconut products. Coconut water is touted as a natural energy drink, better than any sports drink. Coconut milk has become a new favorite for people looking for a dairy replacement. And olive oil is being passed over for coconut oil in cooking. Should you join the coconut band wagon? Continue reading

Thyroid cancer, rare but treatable

thyroid cancerWho knew that a little gland in your neck, shaped like a butterfly, could cause so many problems including, potentially, thyroid cancer? The thyroid gland is responsible for many functions in the body by releasing thyroid hormones into your bloodstream. It affects almost every cell in your body. The gland’s main function is to control metabolism, but it can also affect hair and skin growth, mood, body temperature regulation, or how cold or hot you get.

When something goes wrong, like cancer, it can wreak havoc with your body systems, and you might begin to notice some changes. Thyroid cancer is a malignant growth, or tumor, in the thyroid gland. It is a rare cancer, about 2% of all cancers, but it is the most common cancer of the Continue reading

From peer pressure to peer support

Easing the burden of hereditary colorectal cancer

colorectal cancer

Members of the Myers family share a hereditary high risk for colorectal cancer.

Learning to fit in and conform with other children is a rite of passage for most of us, but when someone is living with a genetic disorder and the life-long threat of cancer, those formative years can be fairly tough. Just ask Kevin Myers. He has an inherited genetic disorder that results in a very high risk for colorectal cancer. It is called familial adenomatous polyposis, or FAP.

“I was seven or eight years old when I became aware that my dad’s mom and brother had died from this cancer, and my dad was frequently having pre-cancerous polyps scraped out of his Continue reading

Understanding liver cancer and liver metastases

Former President Jimmy Carter recently was diagnosed with advanced cancer after having liver surgery.

Theodore Welling III, M.D., Neehar Parikh, M.D., and Tracy Licari, PA-C, discuss a patient in the U-M Multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Clinic.

Theodore Welling III, M.D., Neehar Parikh, M.D., and Tracy Licari, PA-C, discuss a patient in the U-M Multidisciplinary Liver Tumor Clinic.

While we don’t know the origin or extent of his cancer, it’s possible that the cancer had spread to his liver from another part of the body. We sat down with the directors of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Liver Tumor Program, Neehar Parikh, M.D., medical director, and Theodore Welling III, M.D., surgical director, to learn more about liver cancer and liver metastases.

What does it mean when cancer is found in the liver but it’s not liver cancer? What’s the difference?
It means that the cancer is a secondary (not primary) liver cancer which is the result of spread from Continue reading