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Learning About Genetic Screening

When Chicago filmmaker Joanna Rudnick tested positive for the "breast cancer gene" at age 27, she knew the information could save her life. Her film, In the Family, documents her exploration of her own genetic mutation and her efforts to reach out to other women.

How can you learn more about genetic screening?

Recruit local experts and invite them to participate in a panel discussion or Q&A about the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and what the law means for individuals today and in the future.

Find out if your state laws include genetic protections. Contact your state legislators to let them know your thoughts on your state's policies.

Learn more about your family's medical history. The U.S. Surgeon General has a Family History Tool in both English and Spanish.

Host a screening of In the Family for health care, mental health and social service professionals to increase their understanding of what women experience as they go through the complex decision-making process around genetic testing and cancer diagnoses.

Conduct a campaign to encourage women in your group or community to take advantage of screening and testing services for breast and ovarian cancers, including mammography and, when indicated by family history, genetic testing. Help ensure that healthful screening services, including counseling and support, are available to all women in your community, regardless of their ability to pay or their insurance status.

Find out if your state requires insurance coverage for cancer screening and diagnostic tests, like mammography and the CA125 blood test. Write a letter to your local representative in which you state your agreement or disagreement with your state's policy.

Organize a community health fair targeted toward learning more about hereditary diseases. Invite local genetic counselors (you can find one near you on the National Society of Genetic Counselors' website to participate.

Hold a fund-raiser for underinsured and uninsured women who would like to take advantage of genetic testing but cannot afford the cost of testing.