Genetic Counseling Clinic

In addition to seeing patients and families alongside our geneticists and physician assistant in our general Genetics Clinic, our genetic counselors staff a Genetic Counseling Clinic held each Monday.  

What is a genetic counselor?
Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Most enter the field from a variety of disciplines, including biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health and social work.

A genetic counselor works closely with individuals and families to translate scientific knowledge into practical information. Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to families who have members with genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence and review available options with the family. Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling to families, serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or state support services. (Adopted by the National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 1983)

What happens at a genetic counseling visit? 
A genetic counseling visit takes approximately 1 hour.  To assess your risk for an inherited condition, one of our licensed genetic counselors will ask questions about your medical and family history. The genetic counselor will draw a pedigree, or detailed family tree, which shows your relatives, their relationship to you, and medical health concerns. At your visit, the genetic counselor may explain details of a specific condition, discuss genetic testing, clarify recurrence risks, and review management and surveillance options. The ultimate goal is that you and your family understand the medical facts and the available options to help make important health decisions. Follow-up appointments may be necessary in this ongoing process. For additional information on preparing for an upcoming appointment, see Clinical Services: Preparing for your visit.

Who might benefit from an appointment with a genetic counselor?
Individuals referred for:

  • Cancer risk assessment: breast, ovarian, colon, etc.
  • Huntington’s disease or other adult-onset disorder
  • Carrier testing and/or counseling
  • Preconception counseling
  • Discussion of genetic test results
  • Family history of a  known genetic condition

What is a cancer risk assessment?
Many individuals are referred for a genetic counseling visit to discuss their personal or family history of cancer. A cancer risk assessment may provide information about your individual risk for developing cancer, potential screening or risk reduction strategies,  as well as to help you make decisions about genetic testing. The genetic counselor may discuss the benefits as well as limitations of genetic testing, cancer surveillance and preventative strategies/options, test results and their implications—including emotional impact and effect on other family members. Referrals to other health care professionals may also be considered. Follow-up appointments may be necessary in this ongoing process. 

Recommended Referrals for Cancer Risk Assessment

  • Young age of cancer diagnosis (less than 50 years for breast cancer)
  • Multiple primary cancer diagnoses 
  • Family history of same cancer or multiple other cancers
  • Rare cancer type
  • Family history of known genetic cancer condition
If you have questions about your personal or family history and would like to speak with one of our licensed genetic counselors, call 405-271-4211 to schedule an appointment