Working with a Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors understand both the science and the emotional impact of genetics. They’re trained to support you, from carefully explaining your individual risks and options to helping you work through your decision. Based on your specific situation, they can estimate your cancer risk and recommend testing, screening and management options. If you’re looking for guidance during this process, working with a genetic counselor can make things more comfortable.

“I met with a genetic counselor and she was incredible—really warm and supportive. She knew her stuff, she knew the doctors. My husband and I met with her individually and also the gynecological oncologist joined the meeting. So it was very thoughtful, very lengthy. I really got the sense that they were experts and they cared.”

- LAURA

What to Expect

No genetic counseling session is the same, but there are a few things you can definitely expect. Most genetic counseling appointments are provided in-person, however, phone and video based-sessions are also options. A genetic counselor will be able to answer all your questions about testing. Expect to share your family health history and be ready to learn the basics of testing. Your counselor is focused on helping you decide – after you understand your options and possible results – if testing is the right choice for you.

Before your test, a genetic counselor will:

  • Use your personal and family history to create a detailed risk assessment
  • Discuss and explain your specific testing options
  • Help you understand testing’s benefits and risks from multiple perspectives, including medical and emotional points of view
  • Explain how your results may impact relatives who share your DNA – and potentially your risk

After your test, a genetic counselor is there to:

  • Help you understand your results and what exactly they mean
  • Work with you on your options and next steps
  • Help make a plan for talking with your family about your results

Preparing to Meet with a
Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors gather your family history by going back three generations (that’s considered a complete family history). But it’s OK if that’s not possible – do the best you can. You’ll probably have questions along the way. Great, this is the perfect time to ask! The information you’ll find here and the resources below will help you get the most out of your sessions.

Ask a Genetic Counselor

Meeting with a genetic counselor face-to- face can feel like a big move. We’ve created an in-between step where you can ask a certified counselor a specific question to help you start your risk assessment process. With this resource, you can submit questions you have about hereditary cancers in general, your risk, or how you can be proactive with your health. A genetic counselor from InformedDNA will answer your questions. Keep in mind while they can provide general information, they’re not able to give you specific medical advice because at this stage they don’t have a full assessment.

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