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Did you know we didn’t have the ability to map our entire human genome until 2003? Why is this important? Because that historic event has allowed, our understanding of human DNA to grow exponentially, unlocking significant medical breakthroughs in how our genes impact our lives.

This progress has opened up the field of PGx (pharmacogenomics) and CGx (hereditary cancer-genetic risk) testing which provides help to those patients looking to understand how their genes may impact their reactions to medication and/or their potential likelihood for cancer. 

Granted, much more research is needed to provide an answer to the age-old question of “nature vs nurture,””, but as each day passes we’re quickly finding that genes do have a significant effect on our reactions to all sorts of medical therapies.

Today we’re going to discuss what CGx and PGx testing is, the benefits of this testing, and where you can learn more to get genetic testing yourself. Let’s dive in!

What Is PGx And CGx Testing?

Before we dive into the benefits, we need to lay the foundation by understanding what CGx and PGx testing are. 


PGx officially stands for pharmacogenomics, which is the study of how genes (your DNA) affects the body in relation to medication. Ideally PGx is used to understand if certain genetic makeup might have potentially harmful interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medication. 

This testing can provide your health care provider with critical information to determine if your medical dosage is appropriate for your specific genetic type. This can range from increasing or decreasing your dosage, to completely eliminating certain medications due to the possibility of negative interactions with patients who have similar genotypes. 


On the flip side of the coin is CGx which stands for cancer genetic testing. Cancer Genetic testing (CGx) helps you and your doctor identify if you have inherited genetic variations that may be associated with an increased risk for developing certain cancers. Having knowledge of these genetic variations empowers your provider to develop a personalized healthcare plan. 

Cancer is the process of uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells and is one of the leading causes of death within the United States. For many people cancer seems like a random or uncontrollable event with no warning sign until often it’s too late. However, physicians have noticed certain types of cancer can be frequently associated with specific mutations of the DNA, which may mean genetic testing can provide insight into potential risks. 

Why Is PGx And CGx Testing Important?

Importance Of PGx Testing

There’s an estimated 5 billion prescription medications filled each year, and many clinical laboratories have shown that potentially 50-75% of all filled prescriptions have a positive response rate by the patient. 

This means there’s a potential for 25-50% of all medications being ineffective for the patient due to metabolic reactions inhibiting the effectiveness of the medicine. 

This means a significant portion of the population could be wasting precious time hoping for a medication to produce a positive effect, only to find out there’s genetic limitations to the absorption of the medication. 

A good example of the biggest benefit of PGx testing is within the mental health field where patients with anxiety are getting tailored treatments. Historically, anxiety treatment was done on a trial-and-error basis where healthcare providers monitored the patient’s response to pharmaceutical dosages. Now, PGx is providing insights to help the dosages become effective right from the beginning. 

Importance of CGx Testing

In 2022, there were an estimated 609,000 people who passed away from cancer, with another 1.9 million who were newly diagnosed.

The standard treatment for cancer can involve chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy to help kill the cancer cells and slow the growth from spreading to other parts of the body. 

CGx testing can be used as a test to help provide insights into specific hereditary mutations which might provide insights into the potential formation of cancer. With this information at hand, patients can understand where they may develop cancer, and actively seek early screening as preventative medicine. However, it is critical to understand that this test does NOT diagnose cancer. It is simply a way to provide insight into an increased future risk for the development of some types of cancer. 

Doing so can help save thousands of people from dying due to catching the cancer late. 

Additionally, genetic testing can provide targeted therapy tailored to the DNA of the patient which could help increase the effectiveness of traditional therapy. All of this put together means more people getting the opportunity to live proactively instead of reactively. 

How Do CGx And PGx Testing Work?

The testing for PGx and CGx are usually done in one of three ways: 

  1. Blood Test – where a physician or technician will draw blood from a vein within your arm using a small needle. This will usually last less than 5 minutes for completion.
  2. Saliva Test – where you will be instructed to provide a saliva sample into a small tube or collected with a special pad or swab.
  3. Cheek Swab – where a physician or technician will rub the inside of your cheeks to gather material for testing.  

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you see the wonderful potential, and practical applications, of pharmacogenomic and cancer-genetic testing. For centuries, humans have been studying and striving to figure out how to provide life-changing medicine for those in need. Finally it feels like we’re making significant strides in the right direction by doing the best to personalize medicine so every individual can get a tailored therapy aimed at providing real results. If you’re interested in getting a CGx or PGx test, contact Lux Diagnostics to learn more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PGx Testing Accurate?

If you get a clinical grade PGx test there’s a high degree of accuracy related to drug metabolism based on the patient’s individual DNA. There are a host of “at-home” tests which have somewhat skeptical results due to the nature of sample collection  However, many physicians can use a clinical PGx test to provide effective medical decisions for their patient, derived from properly obtained clinical samples.

Who Should Get A CGx Test? 

It’s recommended for patients who: 

  • Have a past history of cancer
  • Have an immediate family member with pancreatic, breast, or ovarian cancer
  • Patients who have a 2nd degree family member who got cancer early in life

Who Should Get A PGx Test?

The ideal individual who would benefit most from a PGx test include:

  • Patients who want to reduce their risk of serious side effects related to medication
  • Patients looking to identify a medication with a higher chance of working for them
  • Patients who want to adjust their dosage of medication or potentially switch

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