Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Genetic Counselor

No matter which route you choose, you’ll have a lot to discuss with your healthcare provider or genetic counselor. This list is a great starting point – and might even spur more questions you’ll want to ask.

About Risk Level
  • How do I know if I’m at risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer? What are the known risk factors?
  • Can I still be at risk even if I don’t have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer?
  • Am I a candidate for genetic testing? Should I consider it?
  • What is the connection between my genes and my risk for breast and ovarian cancer?
Gathering Your Information
  • What information do I need to gather to assess my risk for breast and ovarian cancer?
  • What kind of information should I ask my family about our health history? What specific questions should I ask them?
  • Do you have any good ways to spark discussions with my relatives about our medical history?
About Your Family Tree
  • Based on my family history, what’s my chance of testing positive for a genetic mutation? What’s my projected risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer?
  • If someone in my family has tested positive for a known genetic mutation, what are the chances that I’m also a carrier?
  • What plan would you recommend for me, based solely on my family history? If I test positive for a genetic mutation, would that change your recommendation?
  • Is DNA banking something my family should consider?
Deciding to Get Tested
  • What are the pros and cons of genetic testing?
  • What do I need to think about before getting testing? Medically? Emotionally?
  • What’s our plan if I test positive for a genetic mutation? What if I test negative? Or VUS?
  • What type of test do you recommend?
  • Are there other cancers I should be worried about besides breast and ovarian?
  • What type of cancer screenings do you recommend for me if I decide not to get tested?
Logistics of Getting Tested
  • How much will testing cost?
  • Will my health insurance cover genetic testing? If my health insurance doesn’t cover it or if I’m not insured at all, are there any financial assistance programs or test options that don’t require insurance?
  • Will getting tested affect future life insurance policies? What if I already have a life insurance policy?
  • If I test positive, could I be discriminated against? Are there legal protections against genetic discrimination?
About the Testing Process
  • How is genetic testing done?
  • How accurate is the test? How reputable is the lab performing the test?
  • When and how will I receive the results?
About Getting Results
  • What’s our plan if I test positive, negative, VUS?
  • What sort of preventative plan do you recommend?
  • What lifestyle changes could reduce my risk? Where can I learn about other options to lower my risk?
  • How will my result affect my family members? How should I talk to my children about my results?
  • Have any of your patients tested positive for a high-risk gene mutation- like BRCA1/2, PTEN, TP53, etc? How familiar are you with these and the low-penetrance genetic mutations that could increase my risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer?