What is cancer genetic counseling?
Cancer genetic counseling is a communication process that helps patients understand genetic information and how it affects their risks and management. A board-certified genetic counselor who is a Master’s-level health professional trained in cancer risk assessment will 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.
The goals of cancer genetic counseling are:
- To determine the likelihood that there is an inherited risk of cancer in a family
- To conduct a comprehensive and cancer-specific genetic evaluation, including family history analysis and risk assessment
- To coordinate genetic testing, when appropriate, and explain implications of genetic test results.
- To provide information regarding appropriate research studies
- To provide information about relevant local, regional
How do I know if the cancer in my family is hereditary?
The decision to have genetic counseling and/or testing is an individual one. One of the goals of a genetic counseling session is to help the patient work through the decision-making process of genetic testing. If you and your family meet one or more of the below criteria, you may want to consider contacting the UofL Genetics Clinic.
- Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with the same types of cancer (or related types of cancer, such as breast and ovarian, or colon and uterine/endometrial)
- Cancer that occurs before age 50
- Rare cancers
- A known cancer predisposition gene in the family
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
What does genetic counseling involve?
- Review your medical and family history and draw a family tree
- Estimate the likelihood that the cancers in a family are hereditary
- Provide cancer screening and risk-reducing recommendations based on an individual’s level of risk
- Discuss the benefits, limitations and risks of genetic testing
- Provide genetic testing for appropriate individuals
- Follow-up conversations to discuss the results as well as identify next steps and other resources
Who is the most appropriate person to test first in my family?
An individual with cancer is the most appropriate person to be tested. However any individual in a family may benefit from genetic counseling to discuss their family’s risk.
Will health insurance pay for genetic counseling and genetic testing?
In many instances, insurance companies will pay for all or a portion of the cost of genetic testing. Many genetic testing laboratories have a process of pre-verification available, so that individual can know ahead of time whether or not their insurance company will cover the cost of testing.
Legislation at the national level prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing premiums based on genetic testing results.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Genetics Clinic at 502-588-0888.
We are located at:
UofL Brown Cancer Center
529 S. Jackson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
UofL Genetics Clinic at the Weisskopf Center
571 S. Floyd Street
Louisville, KY 40202