Genetic Counseling

Cancer genetic counseling at Nebraska Cancer Specialists involves having a genetics professional help you and your family understand your inherited cancer risk.

Genetic counseling is a process to help you understand your risk for hereditary cancer and make informed decisions about your care.

During your appointment, you may discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • Your family history of cancer
  • Your family history of other medical conditions

A genetics professional uses this information to estimate the chance that you have a hereditary condition that causes a higher than usual risk for cancer. This is called a cancer risk assessment.

You may also talk about genetic testing, cancer screening and cancer prevention options

to help you understand your risk and how to make decisions that are best for you.  Based on this information, a genetics professional can help you decide whether a genetic test might be right for you or your relative.

Genetics professionals are trained to provide you with:


  • 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


  • 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


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

Listen to the NCS In The Know Podcast

This episode: learn more about genetic testing and counseling. Dr. Mary Wells and Michaela Sherbeck, APRN-CNS, AOCNS, AGCNS-BC join us to discuss who should have genetic testing, what to do with the results, and how clinical genetic testing differs from consumer genetic tests.

Commonly Asked Questions

Click on the question to see the answer.

How can genetic counseling and testing help me and/or my family?

Genetic counseling may identify an inherited cancer risk in your family. This can help with cancer prevention and/or early detection of cancer. The information may also assist doctors to develop a personalized cancer treatment.

Does insurance pay for genetics counseling?

Most insurance plans pay for the genetic counseling consult appointment, including Medicare and Medicaid sponsored health care plans. However, insurance coverage for actual genetic testing is determined based on family history, which is collected at the consult. A family history of certain cancers often qualifies a patient for insurance coverage for genetic testing. In the event that genetic testing is not covered by insurance, some genetic labs offer cash price testing at a reduced cost. The genetic counselor will be able to give further pricing information at the consult appointment.

How do I prepare for my genetic counseling appointment?

Speak with your family to identify three-generations of family health history, including your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and siblings. This should include information such as which family members have had cancer, what type of cancer they had, and their age at diagnosis. Although having this information is very helpful, it is not necessary to complete genetic testing. You should not avoid genetic counseling because you do not know much about your family health history.

What happens when I meet with a genetic counselor?

The genetic counselor will review your personal and family cancer history and develop a family health tree. This will aid the genetic counselor to evaluate your chance of an inherited cancer risk, identify available genetic testing options to evaluate your risk of cancer, and identify medical management options based on your family history and/or genetic results. This genetic counselor can also explain the benefits and considerations of testing, including insurance coverage and confidentiality.

What happens if I decide to complete genetic testing?

The genetic counselor will review a consent form for testing, which you will be asked to sign to show you understand genetic testing. A blood sample will be collected by using a needle to take blood from a vein. The blood sample will be sent to a genetics lab. Test results are usually available within a few weeks. The genetic counselor will contact you to review the test results.


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