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What can I do to prepare for my cancer genetic counseling appointment?

At your appointment, the genetic counselor will ask you questions about your family’s health history and your medical history. Here is some information that will help the genetic counselor work with you:

• He/She will ask about your own cancer experience, including type(s), part of the body affected and age of diagnosis.

• Have any other members of your family had cancer and what type of cancer did they have? Different types of cancer can run in families. To better understand your cancer family history, you should bring any medical records or pathology reports related to your or your family’s cancers or cancer treatment, if possible.

• What was the age of diagnosis for members of the family with cancer? Generally, the younger a person is when a cancer occurs, the more likely she or he is to have a form of cancer that runs in the family.

• It may be helpful to talk with your family about whether or not anyone has had genetic testing.

Not all predispositions to cancer can be identified by a genetic test. Even if a genetic test is available for a certain type of cancer, genetic testing is not helpful for all individuals.

What is Genetic Counseling?

The goal of genetic counseling is to help you learn more about the causes of genetic conditions (an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes) and how they affect you.

As a genetic counselor, I can review your family and medical histories and figure out if you or your family members are at risk for disease. I can also offer information about genetic conditions and explain how they are passed down through families. As a genetic counselor, I will provide materials about testing options and give professional recommendations and guidance so that you can make informed choices or life plans. If it is found that you have a condition, I can direct you towards medical specialists, advocacy groups, support networks as well as any other resources you might need so that you can make the best decision for you and your family. Continue Reading »

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