Genomics vs. Genetics

While genomics and genetics may sound similar and are related, each focuses on different information.

Broadly speaking, genetics is the study of how inherited traits are passed from one generation to the next through the genes, and how new traits appear by way of genetic mutations or changes. These traits may be characteristics like eye or hair color.

A predisposition to certain types of diseases can also be passed through the genes, such as the BRCA1 gene and the BRCA2 gene which normally help control cell growth. A person who inherits an altered version of the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene(s) has a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. There are breast cancer genetic tests for both the BRCA1 gene and the BRCA2 gene, but these are different from the Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay, which is a genomic test.

A genomic test, such as Oncotype DX, looks at groups of genes and how active they are. This activity can influence how a cancer is likely to grow and respond to treatment. Unlike a breast cancer genetic test, the Oncotype DX breast cancer test does not provide information about a person’s inherited genetic make-up. Instead, the Oncotype DX breast cancer test looks at genes in a patient’s breast tumor to understand how these genes interact and influence the tumor’s behavior.

Learn more about Genomic Health’s product development activities.

Genomics Research vs. Genetics Research

Genetics research is the study of heredity or inherited traits (such as eye color) and alterations in specific genes that may impact the individual potential for a given health condition.

Genomics research is the study of a complex set of genes (either inherited or arising from alterations that occur after birth), identifying not only their sequences but how they are expressed and interact to affect how a condition develops.