What is Genetic Risk Assessment
Genetic Risk Assessment uses counseling and testing to help people understand the implications of genetic links to disease. WellStar offers one of the region’s busiest, but most comprehensive genetic risk assessment programs. It’s a way to look for clues about the possibility of certain inherited medical conditions. The information revealed helps determine the best possible approach to treatment.
The WellStar team includes board-certified Genetic Counselors with a specialty in genetic counseling and testing. They are not only highly skilled, but are highly compassionate.
WellStar Genetic Counselors help patients assess the likelihood of hereditary transmission of a variety of conditions including cancer, prenatal abnormalities, cardiac disease and known genetic conditions.
Individuals seek genetic risk assessment for many reasons including concerns about a personal or family history of cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and heart problems.
How Can I Get an Appointment for Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling services are offered at three Wellstar locations: Kennestone Hospital, Cobb Hospital, and Paulding hospital. A referral is not required to make an appointment. Contact us at 770-793-7472 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment today.
The Genetic Counseling Experience
The counselor’s role is to ensure that patients have the information to make an educated decision about genetic testing. Counselors work through complicated feelings, answer questions and provide support throughout the assessment period.
Genetic counseling starts with a meeting of a WellStar genetic counselor and one or more family members. The counselor will conduct a detailed personal and family history that goes back at least three generations. Based on this information the counselor can provide the patient an assessment of the possibility of a hereditary predisposition to a particular condition.
The initial meeting also includes a discussion of the pros and cons of various genetic tests, which family member/s would be best to undergo testing, and how the test results will be interpreted and communicated to the patient and his or her medical team.
Your counselor may recommend testing to determine if a condition is hereditary. You’ll learn about the benefits and limits of testing and other information about the process. If you decide to be tested your counselor will meet with you afterward to discuss the results, answer your questions and, if appropriate, recommend treatment and services.
Genetic testing is covered by most insurance plans. The genetic testing lab will conduct insurance verification prior to testing. Genetic information revealed by testing is private, protected by law and will not affect your health insurance status.
Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer
Cancer is the result of a change in a gene or group of genes that causes cells to grow into a tumor. But not all such changes are passed from parents to children.
About 5 to 10 percent of cancer patients have hereditary cancer syndrome. In these individuals cancer risk is passed down from parent to child. They are also at a significantly higher risk for developing cancer than other people.
An assessment by a WellStar Genetic Counselor is the best way to find out if a particular cancer is hereditary. A parent carrying a hereditary cancer syndrome gene has a 50 percent chance of passing the gene on to each of their children.
Although talking about cancer can be difficult, many people find that working with our trained and caring genetic counselors can alleviate some of the anxiety. Information is a powerful tool that can help patients understand their disease and participate in treatment.
Following treatment, ongoing screening will be recommended to detect other cancers at the earliest possible stage. Your WellStar Genetic Counselor will discuss ways to reduce the risk, including lifestyle changes and various medical and surgical options.
All patients (including those who do not choose to be tested) will receive a plan for future cancer screening and prevention.
Possible indicators of hereditary cancer syndrome include:
- Unusually early age of cancer onset
- Multiple primary cancers in a single individual
- Cancer in paired organs (such as bilateral breast cancer)
- Multi-generational cancers
- The presence of rare tumors
- An unusual presentation, such as male breast cancer
- Belonging to an ethnic group known to be at high risk for hereditary cancers
- No environmental explanation for the presence of cancer
The following link is available to help determine if genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is an appropriate option for you at www.breastcancergenescreen.org
Genetic Counseling in Pregnancy
WellStar also offers specialized genetic risk assessment for pregnant couples or those considering starting a family. Possible reasons to seek prenatal genetic counseling include:
- Mother’s age of 35 or older at time of delivery
- Abnormal prior screenings
- Abnormal ultrasound findings
- Family history of birth defects, mental retardation or genetic syndromes
- Recurring miscarriage or infertility
- Exposure to medications or environmental hazards
- Member of an at-risk ethnic group (including Ashkenazi Jewish)
Cardiac Genetic Counseling
Wellstar offers genetic risk assessment to patients at risk for hereditary cardiac conditions. Individuals with known cardiac syndromes are offered screening and medications to dramatically reduce the risk of a cardiac event. Common reasons to see a cardiac genetic counselor include:
- Family history of sudden cardiac death in one or more closely related relatives
- Cardiomyopathies, such as:
- Dilated, Hypertrophic, and Restrictive Cardiomyopathies
- Arrhythmias, including a personal or family history of an inherited heart problem, such as:
- Long QT; Brugada; Loeys-Dietz; Fabry; Marfan; Short QT syndrome; ARVD or CPVT
- Aortic Aneurysm and/or Aortic Dissection
- Congenital heart disease or structural heart abnormalities, such as:
- Tetralogy of Fallot, Transposition of the great arteries, Atrial Septal Defect, or Left Sided Obstruction defects