If you or a close relative has had cancer, you may be concerned about your own or your family’s risk for getting cancer. You may also wonder what can be done to reduce your risk of cancer. Genetic counseling can help answer your questions. A genetic counselor is a nationally certified health care provider. He or she can interpret complex family histories, and can help you make an informed decision about test results.
Is genetic counseling right for you?
Genetic counseling may be right for you if you or a close relative had any of these:
- breast cancer at age 45 to 50 or younger
- breast cancer at any age with Jewish ancestry
- ovarian cancer at any age
- colorectal cancer at age 50 or younger
- any rare type of cancer
- similar types of cancer in many relatives (in either your mother’s family or father’s family)
- more than 10 colon polyps during your lifetime
- more than one type of cancer.
If you or any of your family have or had any of the above, or if you are concerned about your cancer risk, talk with your health care provider about genetic counseling.
What is genetic counseling?
Not everyone with a personal or family history of cancer will benefit from a genetic test. Meeting with a genetic counselor does not mean that you will have a genetic test. You may learn more about the testing options and if they are right for you. Not all genes linked to cancer risk have been identified. Before you have a genetic test, you’ll want to know:
- that the correct test is being done
- how valid the test results are
- what your next steps are when you receive the results.
How do you take a genetic test?
Genetic testing is usually done with a saliva (spit) or a blood test. It examines one or more genes that are known to be linked to increased cancer risk. Not all genes linked to cancer risk have been identified. Genetic testing may be covered by insurance. Your genetic counselor can help in the testing process. He or she can help you get approval from your insurance company before having a test, if needed.
How is this service billed?
There is no fee from the genetic counselor. A fee from Rice Memorial Hospital will be billed to your insurance provider for your genetic counseling visit. Check with your insurance provider to see if your insurance will cover this service.
For more information, talk with your health care provider or call a genetic counselor at:
Willmar Regional Cancer Center
Phone: (320) 231-4570
Toll-free: (800) 247-1478