Private Testing Options

In the province of British Columbia, genetic testing is offered through the provincially funded Hereditary Cancer Program. For more information on publicly available testing, please click here. There are also commercial genetic testing programs, which are available online. Costs of testing vary, as do the services offered and the potential reliability of results ie. false negatives/positives, confidentiality, privacy and support services.

  • Note about Accreditation: Some of the companies profiled here are based outside of Canada. The consumer must be aware that most genetic tests available today online are not regulated, meaning they go to market without any independent analysis to verify the claims of the seller. For more information, consider an internet search for consumer information under “GENETICS HOME REFERENCE”.

Considerations for Private Gene Testing: Private labs test for a selection of genes based on the probability or likelihood of people in the population having those genes. It is important to remember that even if you receive a negative result on your test, this does not mean with 100% certainty that you do not have a mutation. You may still carry a mutation that was not included in the test. False negative results are also possible.

Genetic Counselling
Before you decide to test with a private lab, it is always advisable to consult with a genetic counsellor. Many of the private labs profiled below do not include this service, however, Sharsheret, a reputable charity serving the Jewish population based in the United States offers free genetic counselling consultations over the phone to Jewish people anywhere. You can go over your family history with a genetic counsellor and he or she can advise you on how best to proceed with testing.

*The authors of this site do not advocate any one of the testing options profiled on this site. The following test options are listed alphabetically and are not indicative of a promotional relationship.


Private Testing Options in BC

Color Genetics Labs (San Francisco, California) Updated 31 July 2019

The website is easy to navigate and contains information on a wide range of useful topics including testing, genetic counseling, security, privacy and documented research.

Website: www.color.com
Phone: From Canada call 1-650-651-7116
Email: support@color.com
Office hours: 6 am-5 pm Pacific Standard Time

Cost $199 USD plus shipping
Genes Screened 30 genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2
Accreditation Meets CLIA and CAP standards
Confidential Yes
Privacy Available Yes
Referral Process Self-referral, on-line if not living in the USA
Test Collection Method Saliva Test – a Test Kit will be mailed to you
Pre-Counselling Available No
Result Wait Time 4-6 weeks
Post-Counselling Available Yes – see below
Written Report Yes – Test includes genetic counseling and a written report, positive or negative with mutations identified along with risk factors for other cancers.  An additional charge may be applied for a mailed written report
Genetic Profile Typically accepted by BC Hereditary Cancer Program – Must be hereditary cancer test ONLY to be accepted. Confirmatory testing may be required
Medical Follow Up Through BC Hereditary Cancer Program

INVITAE (San Francisco, California)

Website: www.invitae.com
Phone: +1 (415) 930-4018 for Canadian/International Inquiries
Email: Online contact form
Office hours: 4am-6pm Pacific Standard Time

Cost $250 USD for the Genetic Cancer Screen
Genes Screened Includes 61 genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2
Accreditation Meets CLIA and CAP standards
Confidential Yes
Privacy Available Yes
Referral Process Self or physician referral, ordered online
Test Collection Method Blood or Saliva Test
Pre-Counselling Available Consultation with genetic expert available
Result Wait Time 5-12 Calendar days for Breast Cancer STAT panel
Post-Counselling Available Consultation with Genetic expert available
Written Report Yes
Genetic Profile Typically accepted by BC Hereditary Cancer Program. Confirmatory testing may be required
Medical Follow Up Through BC Hereditary Cancer Program

LifeLabs Genetics (British Columbia) Updated 31st July 2019

Website: lifelabsgenetics.com
Phone: 1-844-363-4357
Office hours: Variable, depending on location
Other: Pick up a pamphlet “Understand Your Risk” at a LifeLabs clinic.

Cost $600 CAD, coverage under BC Provincial Health Insurance may be available

“Fast Track” results available at an additional charge

Genes Screened BRCA1 and BRCA2 Only
Accreditation DAP AND IQMH ISO
Confidential Yes
Privacy Available Yes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 analysis for mutations by a German Laboratory: Centogen
Referral Process Through family physician
Test Collection Method Blood or Saliva test professionally taken at a LifeLabs location
Pre-Counselling Available Yes – 15-30 minute consult with a LifeLabs genetic counselor once LifeLabs receives your sample. You will receive a written summary of the session
Result Wait Time 4-6 weeks to family physician
Post-Counselling Available Yes
Written Report Letter of explanation mailed to family physician
Genetic Profile Accepted by BC Hereditary Cancer Program
Medical Follow Up Through BC Hereditary Cancer Program

Myriad Genetics (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Website: www.myriad.com
Phone: 1-800-469-7432
1-800-584-1175
Email: cscomments@myriad.com

Cost $575 USD
Genes Screened 35 gene panel using Myriad MyRisk Hereditary Cancer Test, including BRCA1 and BRCA2

High sensitivity and specificity – meaning few false positives/negatives (advertised as high quality test)

Accreditation Meets CLIA and CAP standards
Confidential Yes, BUT – Myriad follows all United States laws for Privacy of Health Information, but they disclose “Myriad may use or disclose your protected health information for treatment, payment, research, or healthcare operations purposes and for other purposes as permitted or required by law. Where state or federal law restricts one of the described uses or disclosures, we follow the requirements of such state or federal law.” For more information, click here.
Privacy Available Yes, BUT – See above
Referral Process Physician requested test (requires physician referral)
Test Collection Method Blood or Saliva Test, wide variety of options
Pre-Counselling Available No
Result Wait Time 2-3 weeks
Post-Counselling Available No
Written Report Report delivered to health provider (ordering physician)
Genetic Profile Typically accepted by BC Hereditary Cancer Program. Confirmatory testing may be required
Medical Follow Up Must be initiated by physician to Hereditary Cancer Program

23&me Canada Updated 3rd September 2019

*Special note about 23&me: 23&me is not a medical genetic laboratory. It sends the test samples to a laboratory with CLIA certification. 23&me only tests for the most common BRCA mutations in the Ashkenazi Jewish population and does not test for the other 1000+ known BRCA mutations.

Website: www.23andme.com

Cost $249 CAD (Health and Ancestry Service)
Genes Screened Several health and ancestry reports, including screening for BRCA1 and BRCA2 selected variants under Health Predispositions.
Accreditation Meets CLIA and CAP standards
Confidential Yes
Privacy Available Yes – Options offered to opt in/out of research etc. They do share aggregate information with third parties to perform business development, initiate research etc. but all personal information is removed and identification is by barcode
Referral Process Self-referral online
Test Collection Method Saliva Test – Completed by mail
Pre-Counselling Available No – but recommended
Result Wait Time 3-5 weeks
Post-Counselling Available No
Written Report Online report
Genetic Profile Unclear if results will be accepted by Hereditary Cancer Program – may be required to undergo additional testing for confirmation
Medical Follow Up Unknown