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Genetic Counseling

Cancer genetic counseling at Nebraska Cancer Specialists involves having a certified genetic nurse help patients and their families understand their inherited cancer risk by analyzing genetic information to identify their risks for specific cancers. Knowledge about your cancer risk is a powerful tool that can help you make informed medical and lifestyle decisions.

Services Offered:

A genetic counselor explains available genetic tests, what the results mean and can also offer information about cancer screening, prevention, treatment options and provide support. Services are individualized to each patient.

Genetic counselors are trained to advise about:

Information

  • Risk of developing specific types of cancer based on family history
  • Genetic tests that can give more information about risk of certain types of cancer

Education

  • The testing process and the limitations and accuracy of genetic tests
  • Guidance on medical and lifestyle decisions
  • Cancer screening, prevention and monitoring options, as well as diagnostic and treatment options

Reassurance

  • Emotional, psychological, and social consequences of knowing the test results
  • Talking with family members about cancer risk

Preparing for Your Appointment

You can get more out of your genetic counseling appointment if you have information about your family’s cancer history gathered. Although having this information is very helpful, it is not necessary. You should not avoid coming to your appointment just because you do not know a lot about your family history.

Helpful information includes:

  • A list of family members with each person’s current age, or age at the time of death and cause of death. Include parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents and cousins on both sides of your family.
  • Information on specific types of cancer that have been diagnosed in the family

When going to the appointment, consider taking someone with you. This could be a family member or friend. A lot of information will be discussed, and another person can help listen, remember and think of additional questions.

What to Expect During Your First Genetic Counseling Appointment

The following topics will be covered in your initial appointment:

  • Your personal medical history and cancer screening history
  • Your family’s cancer history
  • The possibility of an inherited cancer risk
  • The benefits and limitations of genetic testing for you and your family
  • A strategy for genetic testing that best meets your needs

What to Expect After the Appointment

The genetic counselor will give you information relevant to your specific family history and any genetic testing options.

If you choose genetic testing, your genetic counselor can help you coordinate the details, including finding out if your insurance pays for the costs of the tests.

If you proceed wit the tests, once the results are available, the genetic counselor will schedule a time to review them with you, help you understand them and discuss next steps. This might include whether you may need additional cancer screening. You will receive a copy of the test report(s) and a written summary that explains the results.

In the long term, your genetic counselor will continue to be a resource for you and your family. It is important to call your genetic counselor if you have any questions, or if changes occur in your family’s cancer history.