Overview of Genetic Counseling
The genetic counseling services at Baylor Scott & White Health offer specially trained genetic counselors and physicians specializing in medical genetics to help assess an individual's likelihood of having an increased risk to develop certain types of cancer, heart disease or other conditions.
The genetic counselor works with you to discuss possible appropriate action if an alteration is revealed. Counseling and testing for you and appropriate family members is recommended if a genetic mutation is detected.
Many types of cancers may have a genetic link; some of the most common types include:
- Breast cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Gynecological cancer
- Endocrine cancer
Who Benefits from Genetic Counseling?
Researchers are constantly making advances into understanding and detecting links between specific genetic alteration, or mutations, and the higher risk for developing certain types of cancer, heart disease or other conditions. These mutations and the associated risks can be passed through families. Knowing this information can lead to increased screening and monitoring of patients at higher genetic risk, to potentially diagnose these conditions early, when they are most easily treated. This information can also provide many with options to reduce their risk of developing the disease.
Patients who are most appropriate for genetic counseling are generally those with a strong personal or family history of disease.
As an example, those with a strong personal or family history of cancer would include:
- Cancer at a young age of diagnosis
- Multiple types of cancer in one individual
- Rare forms of cancer
- A family history of similar cancers
What Should I Expect from Genetic Counseling?
For appropriate patients, genetic counselors on staff at Baylor Scott & White will review personal and family medical information and construct and analyze a medical family tree (pedigree). They will calculate a risk assessment and perform specialized genetic testing when indicated.
If a patient tests positive for a genetic mutation that could lead to disease, counselors discuss guidelines for continued monitoring and screening, prevention options, inheritance patterns, education about research opportunities and a report interpreting their test results.