After Your Genetic Test: Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling is a process of educating individuals and families involved with genetic disorders and diseases to help them better understand and accommodate to the familial and psychological effects that may result from the disorder. As the baby boomer generation ages the issue of genetic counseling will increase in relevance. Many genetic disorders, such as breast cancer for instance are known to have a genetic component. Some of these disorders are known to be genetic because of their apparent tendency to run in families. Other disorders such as cystic fibrosis and some infectious diseases also appear to have genetic components. While genetic counseling can offer support and education for genetic disorders, the ultimate goal of genetic counseling is to offer family and friends’ assistance in planning for and coping with genetic potential.
There are a few genetic counseling tests available to help families and friends cope with genetic counseling. Most testing consists of blood tests, saliva samples, or hair samples. These tests will usually provide results within eight weeks of collection. Some genetic counseling tests are designed to assess the whole family and ask questions regarding disease prevention, early detection and possible treatments, and even possible genetic counseling. The testing is often able to give a family and friends an indication of the current state of genetic counseling, and as a result may help to create a support system.
If genetic tests indicate an individual may have genetic conditions the genetic counselors may refer the individual to a genetic counseling specialist for more specific testing. Often genetic counselors will encourage genetic testing since having the information in a laboratory is typically more accurate and faster than obtaining the information through self-diagnosis or other sources. Although the accuracy of genetic counseling testing is not 100 percent, most genetic counselors will use the results to further discuss possible treatments and to determine if genetic counseling is an appropriate course of action for the patient.
Some genetic counseling tests also can provide insight on lifestyle choices, diet, stress levels, medications and overall health. Some genetic counseling tests also suggest that individuals with genetic conditions should reduce their risks for disease by making changes in their lives. For example, many genetic counseling tests indicate that smokers have a greater chance of contracting lung cancer. The screenings are generally completed only if genetic counseling is being pursued, but some counselors offer genetic counseling along with other health services so that the individual may seek a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.
Genetic counselors interpret genetic testing results for patients who have one or more genetic conditions. These genetic conditions can be related to certain cancers, such as colon or breast cancer, and can affect other organs, such as the eyes or pancreas. Some genetic conditions only affect one area of the body. For example, cystic fibrosis often only affects the lungs. Other genetic conditions affect multiple areas of the body, which makes it difficult or impossible for someone to engage in many regular activities. In these cases genetic counseling can be very helpful.
Genetic counselors interpret additional tests, such as genetic testing for heart disease, diabetes and allergies. These tests can indicate at risk factors and provide treatment options. They also conduct genetic counseling sessions with the individuals to determine what, if any, genetic conditions they have and what treatments they require. Sometimes genetic counselors offer support groups for family and friends who are dealing with genetic issues. They also provide information and help local communities understand genetics.
Interested in genetic testing and genetic counseling?
Scientific advances reinforce the ever growing need for genetic testing. Vita’s Vision: To provide all individuals with genetic testing options (Test.), facilitate understanding of personal genetics (Know.), accelerate learning and interpretation of personal genetics (Educate.), create actionable implementation of genetic knowledge (Advocate.).
Our ultimate goal or Mission is to make personalized medicine accessible for every person and their family, and we plan to accomplish this goal through our vision.
Ready to join us on our Mission? Learn more about your personal and family genetic makeup and personalized medicine options through our genetic test offerings. These include:
Even better news, with qualifying insurance, this test can cost you nothing out of pocket. Click here to schedule a call with one of Vita Medical’s Patient Services Consultants to find out your eligibility.
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