Genetic counseling is the method of advising people and their families who are affected by or at risk of hereditary disorders. Also, it is a process to assist them to understand and adapt to the therapeutic, mental and familial suggestions of hereditary contributions to disease.
It involves talking about a genetic condition with a health professional who has qualifications in both genetics and counselling. Genetic Disorders caused by changes or mistakes in genes are inherited from one or both parents to their offspring.
The process integrates:
1. Analyse the family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence
2. Education about genetics, its testing, management, prevention
3. Counseling to promote the informed choices and adapt to the risk or condition.
Why might you need genetic counselling?
People affected with inherited disorder or there might be a chance to get the inherited condition, they should consult Genetic Counselor as that will help them to understand more about the condition, what causes it and how they can adjust to it and plan for the better future.
Some of the genetic conditions (sometimes referred to as ‘hereditary disorders’) people talk to a genetic counsellor about is: cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Huntington’s disease, cancer, diabetes etc.
The Genetic Counseling is different from the Genetic Testing as later involves tests which you doctr does to know about the symptoms or a family history of a genetic condition. The Genetic testing can only tell you about the likelihood and risk of your passing a genetic condition on to any children that you conceive.
Pregnant Women could do diagnostic tests as part of your pregnancy check-ups and scans, to find out if their baby has a genetic disorder. These tests include amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling or CVS.
Role of Genetic Counselor:
Genetic counselors are trained to advise you about:
- the risk of developing specific types of cancer based on your family history
- Genetic tests that can give one more information about the risk of certain types of cancer
- The testing process, the limitations and accuracy of genetic tests
- Emotional, psychological, and social consequences after knowing the test results
- Screening Cancer and monitoring options
- Cancer prevention
- Diagnostic and treatment options
- The privacy of your genetic information
- Talking with family members about cancer risk