Free cancer screenings still available for some women

Free cancer screenings still available for some women

MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - More than a thousand people in North Alabama now know if they carry a gene for some cancers. Many of them were tested for free and it's still available to some women in Madison County.

Brad Garland got an unusual Christmas gift last year

"I opened it up Christmas day," said Garland. "This little envelope inside were a couple of swabs, and so, I just kind of swabbed the inside of my cheek, nice and easy didn't have to get any blood or anything."

Garland is one of many people in the Madison County area who has been tested for breast, ovarian, colon and uterine cancer.

"I have a kid, and recently, had another kid. And so, me being adopted that kind of lead me to say, hey, let me found out a little bit more about my history," said Garland.

Garland paid a discounted rate of $99 for the testing kit from Kailos, a genetic testing company under the Hudson Alpha Institute umbrella.

But right now, the screenings are free for women who are 30-years-old living in Madison County.

Kimberly Strong, a genetic investigator, said so far more than a thousand people have been tested since October of last year.

"Just under 4 percent have come back as showing a variant in one of those 23 genes that were tested," said Strong.

Strong said that doesn't mean a person has cancer but the results can make them more aware of their risks.

"What it does is gives them some insight into what their increased risks may be. Might offer an opportunity for earlier screenings, early mammograms, that sort of thing," said Strong.

As for Garland, he's at ease now knowing more about his family's medical history.

"It makes me feel good," said Garland. "At least from what I've seen, nothing's going to crop up in their future, as a dad in that regard.  And then also, I'm not potentially passing onto them.  At least for what I can see from these tests."

The testing kits will only be available for free and at a discounted rate until the end of October.

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