What is Genetic Counseling?

Cancer genetic counseling is a communication process that helps patients understand genetic information and how it affects their risks and management. A UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center nurse practitioner can provide an individualized cancer risk assessment and management recommendations to individuals and families at increased risk for cancer due to their personal and/or family history of cancer.

Many patients who participate in genetic counseling will complete genetic testing. Hereditary genetic testing, also known as germline testing, is a saliva or blood test that looks for hereditary genetic mutations that increase an individual’s risk for developing certain types of cancer. One of the main goals of genetic testing is to prevent a cancer diagnosis or to catch it in its early stages.

Who is Eligible for Genetic Counseling?

While anyone can make an appointment for genetic counseling, patients with a health history that meets one or more of the following conditions may have an elevated benefit of genetic testing:

  • Multiple family members with a cancer diagnosis or with more than one type of cancer
  • Multiple family members with breast or ovarian cancer
  • Multiple family members with colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Family members with cancer diagnosed at or under the age of 50
  • Having 10 or more polyps identified at one time on a colonoscopy
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • Unknown family history (adopted, estranged from family, limited family structure)

What is the Process for Genetic Testing?

Before your genetic testing, you will have a 30-minute counseling visit to:

  • Discuss a thorough family history and select appropriate testing
  • Discuss risks and benefits of genetic testing
  • Discuss implications of results, including surgical and/or treatment options and appropriate screening/surveillance
  • Discuss reproductive implications (how other family members may be affected)
  • Discuss financial, legal and social implications

If you test positive for a genetic mutation, you will meet again with the nurse practitioner during a 1-hour visit to:

  • Discuss results, management guidelines and screening recommendations
  • Have appropriate referrals placed
  • Discuss a plan for notifying family members
  • Arrange testing of family members

The UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center is committed to making cancer a disease of the past. To schedule an appointment for genetic counseling or to learn more, call 502-562-HOPE (4673).

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