What does a genetic counselor do?
Our licensed genetic counselors are experts at providing comprehensive, confidential assessment of inherited and lifestyle risks for certain medical conditions. We offer genetic consultation and testing for cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurogenetic and other health conditions affecting adults. We also provide prenatal and preconception genetic consultation.
Does colon cancer run in your family? Did your grandfather and your great-grandfather have heart attacks at an early age? Your genetic counselor will collect your personal health information and draw a family tree of your family medical history. This map of the generations of your family, which is called a pedigree, helps you visualize patterns in generations of your family that may suggest a higher risk for hereditary cancer and/or other diseases.
While no test can tell you for sure that you will, or will not, develop a certain medical condition, the family tree created by a qualified genetic counselor lays the groundwork to help you and your doctor come up with the best plan for you.
People often decide to do genetic testing following diagnosis of a disease — breast cancer, for example — to help doctors determine the best course of treatment. Your genetic counselor will help you determine if you qualify for genetic testing, the best test for you based on your personal and family history, and may provide referrals to appropriate medical specialists or support services based on the information you provide.
If you and your genetic counselor do decide that genetic testing is right for you, you can give a blood or saliva sample right in the same building as your counseling appointment. We partner with certified laboratories that specialize in genetic testing and meet all federal standards defined under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act so you can be confident that your results will be accurate and handled professionally and your privacy will be protected.
Your genetic counselor will review the results of your genetic testing with you at a future appointment. Results usually take between three and six weeks depending on the test ordered. Your results appointment may include recommendations on ways to lower your overall risks for disease, as well as options for appropriate medical care or intervention. These recommendations are tailored to you based on your genetic test results, personal history and family history. Your counselor will also determine if you qualify for any available prevention or treatment research studies. As part of your genetic consultation, your family history is entered into Delaware’s high-risk family cancer registry where you can help scientists learn more about cancer patterns in our community and work toward new discoveries in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Home-based DNA tests are growing in popularity as people trace their family ancestry and health risks. If your results from one of these tests indicate a genetic condition, you may wish to schedule a consultation to review those results with one of our licensed, expert genetic counselors and pursue further confirmatory genetic testing for medical management purposes. We can help you determine if genetic consultation and further testing will be covered by your insurance.
Request a consultation today with a member of ChristianaCare’s expert genetic counselors. Call 302-623-4593, option 1, or toll-free at 1-800-811-8116.