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What Is Cancer Genetic Counseling And Testing?

Genetic Counseling and Testing 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 Centers 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.

Genetic Counseling Process: 

  • The genetic counseling appointment involves an 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.

For more information, you can view or print a copy of our Genetic Counseling Appointment Guide 

Genetic Counseling for Current Cancer Patients

As part of our comprehensive and personalized treatment planning, your physician may refer you to our genetic counseling services. This service can be helpful in your cancer treatment planning and management, including surgical decisions. It also can help determine risk for future cancers and risk for family members to develop certain cancers.

You may be referred to genetic counseling if your doctor sees a need. Some of the conditions that may indicate a genetic counseling referral include:

  • Early onset cancers (ex. Breast cancer before age 50)
  • Rare cancers (ex. Ovarian cancer or pancreatic cancer)
  • Multiple primary cancers in one person
  • Multiple generations affected

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If I’m A Candidate For Genetic Counseling Or Testing?

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. Breast 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 gene mutations can help to clarify the type of cancers you may be more susceptible to and the level of risk to develop these cancers. The ultimate goal of genetic counseling and/or testing is to create an individualized medical management plan intended to prevent cancer or detect cancer as early as possible if cancer develops.

Management recommendations may be advised based on genetic test results as well as a family history of cancer. 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 Testing?

Your cancer genetic counselor can help determine if you are a good candidate for testing and if you meet your insurance criteria for testing. Typically, if you decide to pursue testing, your sample, personal and family history information, and insurance card(s) are sent to the testing laboratory in order for them to complete an insurance benefits investigation. The laboratory will then contact you to let you know your expected out of pocket cost and give you the opportunity to cancel testing for financial reasons.
Self-pay options are also available.

Will 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 (with the exception in companies with 15 or fewer employees).  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. For more information, click here.

Need to Schedule an Appointment with a Genetic Counselor?

Contact the Genetic Counseling Team in the form below or Call 303-930-7872.

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