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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the benefit of genetic testing?
A: Your genes can help you understand whether you are at increased risk for certain health conditions and how your body might process certain medications.* In fact, 10 - 15% of most cancers are due to genetic variants, or changes that are passed down through parents. Most cases of heart disease are due to a combination of lifestyle choices, but some are due to genetics. In addition, when you take a medication, your response is influenced by many factors including genetics. Knowing your genes allows you and your doctor to guide choices for health and prevention.

Q: What is the Genetic and Wellness Assessment?
A: At NorthShore, we provide Advanced Primary Care, integrating genetics into your routine care. The Genetic and Wellness Assessment is a questionnaire that asks you about your personal and family history of certain medical conditions. Based on your responses and national guidelines, your provider will assess if genetic testing is right for you.

Q: What is ColorTM?
A: Color is a leading genetics and health technology company. Their mission is to bring genetic testing to all patients by reducing many of the barriers associated with testing --such as high costs and access.

Q: What is the Color Test?
A: The Color test provides important genetic insights about your risk of developing hereditary cancer, cardiovascular disease, how your body might process certain medications, and information about ancestry and other discovery traits. Clinical results can be used to help patients and their care teams develop personalized prevention and screening care plans based on their inherited risk.

Q: Is there a cost for this genetic test?
A: The patient portion cost of this genetic testing program is $175.00 and may be eligible for FSA or HSA reimbursement. All costs associated with any recommended follow-up treatment and care will be billed to your patient’s insurance.

Q: What does the test evaluate?
A: Cancer: Analysis of 30 genes to better guide a screening and prevention plan for breast, ovarian, uterine, colon, melanoma, pancreatic, stomach and prostate cancers.
Cardiology: Analysis of 30 genes associated with genetic forms of heart disease, such as inherited high cholesterol, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias and arteriopathy that may be evaluated differently from conditions without a genetic cause.
Pharmacogenomics (medication response): Analysis of genes associated with medication response across a variety of conditions (mental health, blood thinners, pain).
Discovery traits: Patients will also receive interesting, genetic traits such as ancestry information, lactose intolerance and caffeine metabolism. As new traits are discovered, Color will notify patients of this additional information available within their Color account. (Discovery traits will not be part of your medical record).

Q: Is this a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ test, or will I need to be retested?
A: This test analyzes genes with “actionable” results. As our understanding of genomics evolves, there are likely to be new discoveries that are not covered by the current test, including new genes or new technology that lets us better look at previously tested genes. Patients should check with their physician every few years to learn of updated testing options, or sooner if there are changes to your personal/family history.

Q: Who is eligible?
A: All adults 18+ years who are active on NorthShoreConnect are eligible. You must sign-up for NorthShoreConnect in order to access your test results. Medicare patients: an Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN) will be required prior to blood draw.

Q: Where can I get the test?
A: This test is available in all NorthShore Medical Group Primary Care locations.

Q: How is the testing sample collected?
A: After completing the consent for testing on NorthShoreConnect and receiving an order from your physician, you can visit any NorthShore lab for a simple blood test.

Q: What if my physician is not at one of these locations?
You can call 847.570.GENE (4363) to learn how you can be tested.

Q: Will this information become part of my medical record?
A: Yes. Your genetic test results will become part of your electronic medical record and accessible through NorthShoreConnect. The optional ‘discovery trait’ results will not be in the medical record but will be available via Color’s online portal.

Q: When and how will I receive my results?
A: An email will be sent to you explaining how to create a user account on Color’s website. Your Color account will allow you to track the status of your test, access genetic counselors, and learn more about your ancestry and other traits. Creation of a Color account is required in order to access your discovery traits.

Results are typically available in 3 - 4 weeks after you create your Color account. You will also receive an email from NorthShoreConnect when your clinical results are available.

Q: What types of results will I receive?
A: A positive result means you have a gene variant that puts you at an increased risk of developing cancer or heart disease – it does not mean that you will definitely develop it. Your physician can help you build a personalized screening plan based on your results.

A negative result means that no gene variants were found on this test. There are other factors that may increase your risk for cancer or heart disease based on personal, family history, or environmental factors. We recommend discussing any concerns with your physician or a genetic counselor.

Q: Who can I reach out to discuss my results?
You will have the opportunity to discuss your results as well as screening and prevention recommendations with a genetic counselor from Color. A NorthShore Genomics Care Coordinator will also be available to assist with scheduling next steps by calling 847.570.GENE (4363).

Q: How do my results impact my family members?
A: Your results can help your family members understand their risk. If your results show that you could be at risk for any of the tested conditions, there is a 50% chance that each of your first-degree relatives could be at increased risk too. Based on your results, NorthShore and Color genetic counselors will provide recommendations for testing family members.

Q: Can interpretation of my results change based on new discovery? How will I get this information?
A: Interpretation of results can change with new data. For example, some patients are identified as carriers of ‘Variants of Uncertain Significance’ or ‘VUS’. This means that a variant was identified in which the clinical impact is not fully understood. Should a variant be reclassified as being significant or benign, NorthShore will contact you via NorthShoreConnect. Color will also update your Color online account.

Q: Where can I find more information about the testing, including risks and benefits?
You can call us at 847.570.GENE (4363).

Q: What protections do I have against discrimination based upon my genetic test results?
A: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) are federal regulations that safeguard results and prevent discrimination using genetic information for health insurance and employment status. More info on GINA can be found at

Q: How is my information kept private/secure?
A: NorthShore and Color rigorously follow all applicable standards established in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Only patients and their care team will have access to genetic testing results unless a patient consents to share their information elsewhere.

Q: Will these genetic test results affect patients’ future life insurance policies?
A: Patients should call their life insurance company to find out if genetic information might impact rates and coverage for new policies.

Q: What is the Genomic Health Initiative (GHI)?
A: We are also inviting all NorthShore patients age 18 or older to participate in this separate research study. The Genomic Health Initiative (GHI) investigates the relationship between DNA sequence variations in human genes and diseases. The results of our analyses may lead to discoveries about the relationship between DNA sequences and disease, which in turn may lead to insights into new medical treatments and prevention.


*Do not change or stop taking any medicine based on a genetic test report without consulting your healthcare provider. This test is not intended to inform you about your current state of health, including whether or not you should take a medication or how much you should take. This test does not diagnose any health conditions and is not a substitute for visiting your health care provider. Discuss the results of the genetic test with your healthcare provider, including whether the medication label includes information on how to use genetic information to determine dosage. Medicine should always be taken as prescribed by your healthcare provider.