Cancer Institute Services


Home > Services > Cancer Institute > Cancer Institute Services
Frequently Asked Questions on Genetic Counseling

What is genetic counseling?
Genetic counseling is a process in which you can learn about inherited conditions, how they affect you and the impact they can have on your family.

What is a genetic counselor?
Genetic counselors are master’s-level healthcare professionals specially trained in medical genetics and counseling to help individuals and their families understand and manage their risk for inherited cancer.

What is the purpose of cancer genetic counseling?

  • Some kinds of cancers run in families. If you have had cancer at a young age (<50), had two or more separate cancers, or have several family members that have had cancer, genetic counseling can help you understand the cancer risks to yourself and your family members.
  • The goal of cancer genetic counseling is to identify individuals/families with an increased risk of cancer in order to promote awareness, screening and early detection, and prevention of cancer.

Why would someone be referred for cancer genetic counseling?
Individuals are often referred for genetic counseling because their personal history of cancer and/or family history of cancer are suspicious for an inherited cancer syndrome.

How long will it take?
Appointments typically last about 1½ hours.

What will the genetic counselor do?

  • Review you family and medical histories
  • Be prepared to tell the genetic counselor about your family members who have had cancer, the type of cancer, and the age at which they were diagnosed. Sometimes it is hard to gather all of this information, but the more you can provide, the better.
  • Explain how hereditary cancers are passed on in the family
  • Determine if you/your family members are at risk for a hereditary cancer syndrome
  • Give you information about inherited cancer syndromes
  • Discuss medical management for individuals with a hereditary cancer syndrome
  • Provide information about genetic testing
  • Allow you to make an informed decision on whether genetic testing is right for you

How much does cancer genetic counseling cost?

  • The genetic counseling program at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center is funded through our NCCCP grant, therefore, the initial consultation is provided at no cost to the patient.
  • The patient’s insurance will be billed if genetic testing is ordered. The patient would be responsible for any deductible, copay, or portion not covered by insurance. The genetic counselor will work with each patient to determine if the cost of testing will be covered by their insurance.

Do I need to be referred by a physician?

  • No, a physician referral is not necessary. Patients may self-refer.
  • Since the initial consultation is provided at no charge to the patient, we don’t need pre-authorization from your insurance company for you to be seen.

Can I be discriminated against if I receive genetic counseling/testing?

  • There are federal and state laws to protect individuals from discrimination from health insurance companies and employers.
  • A health insurance company or employer may not use the result of a genetic test as a preexisting condition. As such, an individual with a positive genetic test result is not at-risk of losing their health insurance or job, based on solely on the result of the genetic test.

What should I bring to the appointment?

  • Family history information
  • Results of genetic testing of family members
  • Insurance card
  • Any medical records you feel the genetic counselor may need

Learn More About the Genetic Counseling Process