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Genetic Counseling

Last Updated 1/2/2009 3:29:36 PM

For people who have a family history of cancer, genetic counseling can help you identify your specific risk for cancer. If you are concerned about your cancer risk, your physician can make a referral for an appointment with our specially trained genetic counselor.

Our genetic counselor can discuss genetic testing. If appropriate, she can coordinate any testing, interpret test results, and review all additional testing, surveillance, surgical, or research options that are available to you or members of your family.

Our genetic counselor works as part of a health care team in conjunction with our physicians, nurses, and other specialists to help you make informed decisions about your health.

How to prepare for an appointment with a genetic counselor:

The best way to prepare for a genetic counseling session is to find out as much as you can about your family medical history. Talk to your family members and try to find medical information about your siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. At minimum, this information should include:

  • Your relation to each family member, including whether family members are adopted or half-relatives
  • Major health conditions that affect each family member such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease
  • The age of onset for each condition
  • Age of death (where relevant)
  • Cause of death

Try to confirm each health condition that affects family members. In most cases, your risk will be different depending on which type of cancer your family members have had. For example, if you think that a relative had uterine cancer when in fact they had ovarian cancer, it could seriously affect the accuracy of your risk assessment.