Sanford Chip FAQs: Q&A and videos

What is it testing for? Why would I want it? What happens to my DNA?

By: Cassie Hajek, M.D. .

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What is the Sanford Chip?

The Sanford Chip is a genetic screening test that can tell you your predisposition to certain hereditary cancers and cardiac disorders, as well as how your body processes various medications.

Sanford Imagenetics developed the test in collaboration with Illumina, a company that specializes in manufacturing systems to analyze genetic information.

Is the Sanford Chip implanted? Do I wear it? Do I swallow it?

No, the Sanford Chip is a blood test.

The name is based on the type of test it is, which is done on platform called a BeadChip array that allows us to test many different things at one time.

For the Sanford Chip, a patient completes a blood draw at a lab. The DNA is extracted and placed on the chip platform, then run through our testing equipment.

What happens to my blood sample and DNA? Will it be used for anything else or sold to anyone else?

After the testing is completed, your blood sample and DNA are discarded securely and safely, and your data is saved digitally on our encrypted servers. We hold this data securely — like we would any personal medical data — within your electronic medical record.

It will not be sold or used beyond this specific test.

Does the test tell me if and when I’ll get cancer?

No, the Sanford Chip is screening test. Most cancers are sporadic, meaning they are not due to hereditary factors. Cancers due to hereditary factors are rare, but these are the type of cancer predispositions that the Sanford Chip looks at.

The Sanford Chip also only looks at results with actionability, which means something can be done to reduce the risk. For example, it looks at inherited breast cancer predispositions for which the action may be increased surveillance with breast MRI.

Remember, the Sanford Chip looks for inherited conditions only, so it does not provide answers for everything.

The test is a screening, which means it is best suited for people who don’t have family history. If you have several family members with a history of cancer and want to know if you’ll get it, you should have a different type of genetic test.

What other kinds of conditions does the Sanford Chip test for?

In addition to evaluating for inherited causes for certain types of cancers, the test also screens for hereditary heart conditions.

There are 59 genes the test looks at, which have actionable steps that can be taken to minimize your risk.

Why does the Sanford Chip test for medications?

The Sanford Chip tests several classes of drugs that are affected by a person’s genetics.

This is part of what’s called pharmacogenetics, which helps us understand how well or not well you may react to certain drugs.

If you’ve had the Sanford Chip run, any time you are prescribed one of these medications, your doctor would receive automated decision support.

For example, if your doctor suggests a medication that you’re a poor metabolizer of, they would receive an alert about it — your doctor would then decide if it’s necessary to adjust the dosage, or offer an alternative medication.

How does the Sanford Chip DNA test differ from an at-home test like 23andMe or ancestry.com?

Many of the at-home tests give results about ancestry and traits, which do not have medical actionability. The Sanford Chip provides only medically actionable results — we only return results on certain conditions and medications. This is important because we want to return results that would impact a patient’s health care.

Additionally, we do a secondary confirmation of all test results to reduce the number of false positive results.

Most direct-to-consumer tests have a very high false positive rate because they do not verify their results. This means that if one of these companies gives a positive result, it has to be taken to a clinical lab for confirmation.

All results from the Sanford Chip are clinically confirmed before being returned to you and your doctor.

Another main difference with our test is that we have medical guidance for the results.

Direct-to-consumer testing does not offer the involvement of a physician or a genetic counselor, which we do for every patient with the Sanford Chip. This is probably the greatest benefit to our patients.

If a positive disease predisposition is identified, patients are offered support after testing through genetic counseling and physician support. For pharmacogenetic testing, pharmacists review all the results — they can advise and recommend medication based on your test’s findings. This benefit is not available from the direct-to-consumer testing companies.

How much does the Sanford Chip cost?

$49. Although this is still expensive, it is quite a bit lower cost than many of the other tests currently available. People who have had it say it’s worth the cost for the information you get back — whether that’s a care plan based on your actionable results, or simply peace of mind knowing you have no positive results.

One of the biggest potential cost benefits is in the area of pharmacogenetics. This testing can help patients get to the right dose of the right medication faster, which has significant cost saving potential.

Is the cost of the Sanford Chip covered by insurance? Does it apply for FSA or HSA reimbursement?

Not at this time.

Can anyone take the Sanford Chip?

Not yet. To get the Sanford Chip, you must be 18 or older, and have a Sanford Health doctor and a My Sanford Chart account.

Can I have my child tested to see if they have the same predispositions as me (or to see what their pharmacogenetic results are)?

Right now, the Sanford Chip is only for adults. If an adult has an identified predisposition, we do offer targeted testing for minors.

If a family wants pharmacogenetics testing for children, we have an alternative way to get that testing completed.

What is the basic process to get the Sanford Chip?

If you’re a Sanford Health patient, you get a message in your My Sanford Chart with a brief description of the Sanford Chip. If you decide to complete the test, there is a link to go through the consent, answer a few questions and pay the $49 test cost.

Once you are done, you’ll receive a My Sanford Chart message letting you know to go to a Sanford Health laboratory for a blood draw.

After your DNA is processed, the results are added to your medical record.

For pharmacogenetics, the results are in the electronic medical record, which you can access in My Sanford Chart.

Most patients will not have any findings on the disease predisposition portion of the test. This is referred to as an uninformative result, and it will come via your My Sanford Chart results.

Patients who do have a disease predisposition will be referred to a genetics specialist to discuss your results and develop a management plan. These results will also be in your electronic medical record for your provider.

Can I request the Sanford Chip if I haven’t gotten a My Sanford Chart invitation yet?

Yes, you can request a Sanford Chip invitation from your primary care provider.

How long does it take to get test results back?

The test result usually comes back in 12 to 14 weeks, which is fairly typical for genetic testing results.

Do I have to go back to see my doctor to review my results?

You don’t have to, but you can.

Who has access to see my test results?

The results are held securely in your electronic medical record. You may access them at any time in My Sanford Chart.

Your doctors also have access to the test information to help make the best care plan for you based on your personal results.

The results from your Sanford Chip test are treated like any other personal health information, and are protected by the same privacy laws.

Do I have to do both parts of the Sanford Chip (pharmacogenetics and disease predisposition)?

No. All patients receive pharmacogenetics testing, but patients can decide whether they want to run the genetic predisposition portion of the test. This is indicated in the consent forms you fill out before having your blood drawn.

If more genetics tests are offered in the future, can I re-use my Sanford Chip?

Yes, as long as the variants we are testing for in the future are on the chip, we will be able to use your initial data without a second blood sample needed. Your chip sample is saved electronically, and the data just need to be reanalyzed.

Before running any new testing on additional areas or genes, we would always contact you for your consent each time.

What should I do if I’m currently taking a medication that the test shows my pharmacogenetics doesn’t respond well to?

Speak with your doctor. The test is also reviewed by a pharmacist who provides recommendations if you are on a medication that is affected by your genetics.

What should I do if the test shows I’m predisposed to certain diseases or cancers? Does it mean I’m doomed to get that condition?

Patients who are found to carry a disease predisposition are at an increased risk for disease, but the finding does not guarantee that you will develop the condition.

There are actions to take if you are found to carry a disease predisposition. A member of our genetics team can discuss your risk, and actions that can be taken to reduce the risk.

Going forward, you can work with your doctor to build an ongoing care plan to closely monitor these areas.

If the test shows I’m predisposed to a particular disease, would it affect my insurance coverage as a preexisting condition?

No. In most cases, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits health insurance companies from using genetic information to influence premium costs.

However, GINA does not regulate life, disability or long-term care insurance, so be sure to review this information carefully in the consenting form.

Why would I want to know this information?

The medications evaluated by that the Sanford Chip as part of the pharmacogenetic test include drugs that many people take or may need in the future. The pharmacogenetic component is great for your doctor to have before prescribing a medication, as it may help to identify the right drug and right dose sooner.

The disease predisposition aspect of the Sanford Chip is a genetic screen to identify your risk of developing certain conditions. If you do have a predisposition, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk.

For example, your doctor may advise a more targeted and aggressive screening schedule than what’s recommended for the general population, and there may be some changes you can make in your behavior, choices and lifestyle that can affect your risk.

From a medical perspective, it’s really valuable for both you and your doctor as you discuss your care plan and what you can do to remain as healthy as possible.

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Posted In Genetics, Healthy Living