WHAT IS GENETIC TESTING AND GENETIC COUNSELING?
Genetic Counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease (NSGC Task Force 2006). At Rocky Mountain Cancer Center our highly-trained genetic counselors specialize in assessing your personal and family history to help estimate your cancer risks, which may be informed by genetic testing. Individualized medical management may then be provided. If genetic testing is indicated and you are interested, your blood can be drawn at our clinic.
- The genetic counseling appointment involves and assessment of personal and family medical history to discuss current genetic testing options and the most appropriate test for you.
- If genetic testing is indicated and you provide informed consent for the recommended test, a sample can be collected during a clinic visit.
- Results are disclosed in person approximately 2-4 weeks following the initial appointment.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M A CANDIDATE FOR GENETIC TESTING AND COUNSELING?
If you were diagnosed with cancer, have a personal history of cancer, and/or have a family history of cancer, you are welcome to meet with a cancer genetic counselor at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers. Cancer genetic counselors can determine whether or not genetic testing would be helpful for you and your family.
About 5-10% of cancers are hereditary meaning that a mutation in a gene leads to an increased risk for certain cancers. When families have a hereditary predisposition to cancer, we typically see:
- Early onset cancers (ex. Prostate cancer before age 50)
- Rare cancers (ex. Ovarian cancer or pancreatic cancer)
- Multiple primary cancers in one person
- Multiple generations affected
WHAT DO I DO WITH THE RESULTS OF GENETIC TESTING?
Identifying specific genetic mutations can help to clarify the level of risk and type of cancers you may be more susceptible to. The ultimate goal of genetic counseling and/or testing is to create an individualized management plan intended to prevent cancer or detect cancer as early as possible, if a cancer develops.
Management recommendations may be advised based on family history as well as on genetic test results. Recommendations could include:
- Close surveillance (screening exams)
- Risk-reducing surgery
- Risk-reducing medications
Additionally, family members may be advised to consider genetic testing or pursue increased surveillance as well.
WILL INSURANCE PAY FOR GENETIC COUNSELING AND TESTING?
Part of the genetic counseling appointment is to help determine if you are a good candidate for testing and if you meet your insurance criteria for genetic testing. Typically, if you decide to pursue testing, the sample and insurance information are both sent to the testing laboratory who will complete an insurance investigation and contact you with your expected out of pocket cost. This can help you determine if you feel comfortable with the cost or need to cancel for financial reasons.
HOW COULD GENETIC COUNSELING OR GENETIC TESTING AFFECT MY INSURABILITY?
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 prohibits discrimination in health insurance coverage and employment based upon genetic information. Colorado State laws protect the privacy of genetic information and prohibit individuals from being denied health insurance, group disability insurance or long-term care insurance based on genetic information. No federal or state laws in Colorado have protections regarding life insurance.