During the first genetic counseling visit, we collect a personal and family medical history. If a family member has had cancer, we ask about the primary diagnosis, the age of onset, and how the cancer was treated. Additional medical records may need to be obtained. The average visit lasts one hour.
We use this information to create a personalized risk assessment for developing certain cancers, and for hereditary cancer syndromes. If the risk assessment indicates a possible hereditary cancer syndrome, we review options for genetic testing. The risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing are discussed. Testing may be performed at the first visit and is usually performed on a blood or saliva sample.
Individuals who have chosen to have genetic testing will have their results reported to them directly by a counselor either over the phone or in person (most results are available in approximately three to four weeks). Whether over the phone or in person, this follow-up includes interpretation of test results, a discussion of how this information affects medical management, and the impact on extended family members. If a phone call is insufficient and questions remain, patients may always request a follow up consultation. Following results disclosure, a copy of the lab report is uploaded into the electronic medical record, and a letter is sent to the referring provider and the patient outlining the significance of the results and guiding their interpretation.