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Supreme Court Ruling Could Make Preventative Genetic Tests More Affordable

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For the last two decades, only one company held patents on genes that determine if you're at risk for breast cancer. For the last two decades, only one company held patents on genes that determine if you're at risk for breast cancer.
McManus wanted to take the genetic test to see if she has an abnormality with her BRCA gene, but her insurance wouldn't cover it. McManus wanted to take the genetic test to see if she has an abnormality with her BRCA gene, but her insurance wouldn't cover it.
Dr. Chad Johnson is a breast surgeon at St. Francis Hospital. He said, since the ruling, at least five other companies have released their own gene test. Dr. Chad Johnson is a breast surgeon at St. Francis Hospital. He said, since the ruling, at least five other companies have released their own gene test.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

A recent supreme court ruling may make it easier for you to see if you're at risk for breast cancer. The high court ruled that companies cannot hold patents to human genes.

For the last two decades, only one company held patents on genes that determine if you're at risk for breast cancer.

Now the Supreme Court says human genes cannot be patented, opening the door for thousands of women to be tested.

Megan McManus is all too familiar with breast cancer.

"I would say I think about it almost everyday," she said.

Her mother survived it, but the disease took her aunt's life.

McManus wanted to take the genetic test to see if she has an abnormality with her BRCA gene. Geneticists say that abnormality would give her an 85 percent chance of getting breast cancer.

5/14/2013 Related Story: Berryhill Woman Says Double Mastectomy Decision Was Right For Her

The only problem: the test costs $4,000.

"I guess that's not, technically, a lot of money for a medical test, but for something out of pocket. I was really angry that my insurance wouldn't cover it, because it seems like such a preventative measure I could take, and that affects how I am going to get medical care for the rest of my life," McManus said.

But a recent Supreme Court ruling may change everything. The court dealt a blow to the only company that provides the test, saying it cannot hold patents to human genes.

Dr. Chad Johnson is a breast surgeon at St. Francis Hospital. He said, since the ruling, at least five other companies have released their own gene test, and he expects the cost to drop by thousands of dollars.

"It's very important and it will drastically change the landscape of medical care," Johnson said.

He said this Supreme Court ruling will impact much more than just breast cancer. It means genetic tests for other diseases, like skin cancer for example, will now be affordable, and patients will be much more informed.

McManus said the ruling is great news for her, and other women, who are worried about breast cancer.

"I think it is something that will allow me to make a lot of decisions about how I am going to live and how I am going to plan everything," McManus said.

Johnson said it's important to remember that not all genetic diseases have cures. He said, before you decide to get a genetic test, do your homework and talk to your doctor.

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