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About Genetic Counseling and Testing

Genetic counseling can be beneficial to those who want to know about their family history and risk for certain diseases and cancers. There could be many reasons to consider genetic counseling. Our certified genetic counselors can help determine if an appointment with our team can benefit you and your family. Some of these reasons include:

  • To determine the chance of having a child born with a genetic condition 
  • To learn about screening for diseases that are more common in certain ethnic groups 
  • To learn more about your risk of developing cancer based on your personal history and family history, and how your doctors can manage that risk

The certified genetic counselors at UI Health can help you with:

  • Increased understanding 
  • Early intervention
  • Appropriate testing
  • Decision making

Genetic Counseling & Testing: Step-by-Step

1. You will meet with your genetic counselor and get a personalized assessment to determine if genetic testing is recommended.

2. If testing is recommended, and you would like this information, the genetic counselor will help you make a decision on the best testing option for you.

3. The test itself is usually done either on a blood sample or a saliva sample. In some cases, prenatal testing can occur using a woman’s chorionic villi (collected through a CVS) or amniotic fluid (collected through an amniocentesis).

4. The test itself will look through specific parts of your DNA to look to see if it has any spelling errors that could affect you or your child’s health. This information can be help a person make informed decisions about their and their family’s healthcare.

5. The time it takes to get results is dependent on the type of test. The lab will report the result to the provider who ordered the test, usually the genetic counselor. The provider will then share the results directly with you.

The Hereditary Cancer Clinic at UI Health provides patients with the opportunity to receive risk estimates based on their personal and family history of cancer and other diseases. The Hereditary Cancer Clinic offers advanced genetic testing to detect inherited factors and gene mutations that increase your risk for developing certain types of cancers, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Gynecological cancers (ovarian, fallopian tube, uterine)
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Renal (kidney) cancer
  • Endocrine cancer, including thyroid and pancreatic cancers
  • Skin cancers, including melanoma

Genetic counselors at UI Health are medical providers that have specialized training in helping patients better understand if genetic testing is right for them, and to help them to make decisions about their healthcare. Genetic counselors support patients seeking more information about their risk for genetic diseases and cancers, including:

  • How family and medical histories may impact the chance of developing a disease or genetic condition, and how that might affect you and/or other family members
  • Which genetic tests may or may not be right for them, and what those tests can and cannot tell them about their health
  • What a genetic test result may mean for their risk, or their family’s risk, of developing a disease, and how that may change their medical management
  • How to make the most informed choices in being proactive in personalizing their healthcare