Genetic Testing Specialist

Maria Palafox, MD

Breast Cancer Surgeon & General Surgeon located in San Antonio, TX

Getting a headstart on cancer can make all the difference. Dr. Maria Palafox, at Maria Palafox, MD, understands the nature of hereditary diseases and offers cancer genetic counseling to her patients in the San Antonio area. Genetic counseling for cancer provides a powerful preventive tool in the battle for good health. To learn more about what the genes in your body can tell you, call or book an appointment online.

Genetic Testing Q & A

by Maria Palafox, MD

What is genetic counseling?

To better understand genetic counseling, it’s helpful to go back and review the role genes play in your body’s function. Your body contains between 20,000 and 25,000 genes, which are made up of DNA, and they are the functional units of heredity.

These genes instruct your body to produce molecules called proteins, which are responsible for most of the heavy lifting in your cells when it comes to the structure and function of your body’s tissues and organs.

Each of your genes has two copies: one from your mother and one from your father. While most humans contain the same genes, less than one percent of these genes carry slightly different DNA sequences, which make up your characteristics.

As a genetic counselor, Dr. Palafox assesses your risks for specific genetic diseases and conditions, as well as your chances of passing along genetic conditions to your children. A typical visit for genetic counseling with Dr. Palafox includes:

  • A review of your family, medical, and pregnancy history
  • An explanation of genetic conditions and how they’re passed down
  • Recommendations for diagnostic testing
  • A discussion of treatment options

These visits are also a great time to ask questions and voice your concerns with Dr. Palafox, who is there to help you navigate your gene pool.

Why should I consider genetic counseling?

Genetic counseling arms you with valuable information that’s designed to keep you one step ahead of potential health problems. For example, if you have a family history of cervical cancer, more frequent testing and vigilant monitoring afford you the chance to catch cancer early on should it develop.

If you’re pregnant, you should consider seeing Dr. Palafox for genetic counseling to:

  • Discuss the types of tests you should take
  • Review negative and positive test results
  • Discuss how certain environmental conditions, chemicals, or drugs may affect your unborn child
  • Learn about chromosome abnormalities associated with advanced maternal age (35 or older)

What is BRCA testing?

BRCA testing is primarily designed to assess your risk for breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins, which help repair damaged DNA. If either of these genes carries specific inherited mutations, they can’t successfully repair your DNA, which puts you at higher risk for ovarian or breast cancer.

If you test positive for either of these genes, this potentially life-saving information allows Dr. Palafox to monitor you more closely, catching any development of the disease at its earliest, and most curable, stages.

To learn more about genetic counseling, call Maria Palafox, MD, or book an appointment online.