NEWS CORNER

5 Reasons Why You Should Meet with a Genetic Counselor Before Having Genetic Testing Done 

By Eleanor Griffith, MS, CGC

1. A genetic counselor can help you understand If and How genetic testing would be helpful for you. A genetic counselor will review your personal and family medical history. Sometimes there is genetic testing they would recommend. Other times, after taking a family history, the discussion centers more on the limitations of genetic testing, and if or why genetic testing available today is Unlikely to be very helpful in guiding your medical care. 

2. A genetic counselor can help you choose a genetic test that will be both Accurate and Comprehensive. There are literally 1000s of genetic tests on the market today. They vary significantly in the genes that are included, what portion of those genes are analyzed, and the accuracy of the test results and interpretation. After reviewing your personal and family history and learning what your concerns are, a genetic counselor can help you choose the test that’s most likely to provide the information that You are looking for. 

3. A genetic counselor can help you choose the most cost-effective genetic test. Most insurers cover at least some types of genetic testing for patients who meet certain criteria. Genetic counselors are familiar with the customer service and insurance billing policies of reputable genetic testing laboratories. When necessary, a genetic counselor will write a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) which your insurer may require for consideration of coverage by a Medical Director. Genetic counselors are also familiar with high quality, self-pay genetic testing options that in some cases may end up costing you less than if you were to go through your insurance. 

4. A genetic counselor can help coordinate testing. In some states, genetic counselors are able to order genetic testing for patients independently. In all states, a genetic counselor can order genetic testing for you under your physician’s name. A genetic counselor knows how to handle the paperwork, can track the status of the test at the laboratory, and review results with you (and your physician) once they’re ready. A genetic counselor will also make sure the laboratory has all the information they need to provide you with the best interpretation possible of your genetic testing results. In some cases, the genetic counselor may seek out additional information related to your reported results or solicit opinions from other laboratories. 

5. A genetic counselor will help you understand what your results mean for you—and what they mean for any family members. Genetic testing results are only helpful if you understand what they mean—and what they don’t mean! A genetic counselor will talk you through your test results, helping you to understand what they mean for You in the context of your own personal and family medical history. A genetic counselor will also talk you through the implications of your test results for other family members and help with suggestions for how to share this information. And… unlike most other healthcare professionals, a genetic counselor will write all of this down for you. You will not only receive a copy of your test results, but also a copy of a consult note, summarizing your discussion with your genetic counselor, and a pedigree (a copy of your family history drawn out). 

Did you meet with a genetic counselor before having testing done? What were your reasons? We’d love to hear from you! 

If you have a personal story related to genetics you’d like to share, email [email protected] and we’ll see if we can get it up on our Patient Stories page

Do you meet genetic testing criteria for hereditary breast cancer risk?

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