Genetic counselors are available at Edith Sanford Breast Center so every breast cancer patient has the opportunity to learn more about their inherited risk factors. A genetic counselor is a health care provider with a degree in medical genetics. They are here to guide patients through cancer risk-assessments and genetic testing options.
Breast cancer can be caused by a combination of many things, but some women inherit a specific genetic trait that significantly increases their risk of developing cancer. A woman should consider genetic counseling if she or a family member has had any of the following:
- A breast cancer diagnosis at a young age (under 50)
- More than one blood relative with the same type of cancer
- More than one generation affected with cancer
- An individual diagnosed with two different types of cancer
- A family member with an inherited gene change that can increase the risk for cancer
Your family history will be discussed at the first meeting with your genetic counselor. During this meeting, it is helpful to come prepared to answer questions about your family members. It may be helpful to gather information about your family’s medical history including:
- Who in your family has had cancer
- What kind of cancer were they diagnosed with
- How old were they when they were diagnosed
- Has anyone in your family had genetic testing and do you have a copy of the results
You may want to check with your insurance provider to see if genetic counseling is covered under your plan, but generally the cost to see a counselor is between $50 and $100. Many insurance companies now require genetic counseling prior to genetic testing.
If your personal or family history is significant, the genetic counselor may suggest a genetic test to look for an inherited cancer risk. The information gathered from genetic testing may influence your future health care and the health care of your family members.
Genetic testing involves collecting a sample of your blood and sending it to a lab for analysis. A genetic counselor will review the consent process with you prior to testing. Once testing is ordered, you will receive the results within a few weeks.
When the results arrive, you will review the results with the genetic counselor and discuss what it means for your care. The information collected from the genetic test may assist your cancer care team in developing the optimal care plan for you.