4 Reasons You May Need Genetic Testing and Counseling

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  • Title: 4 Reasons You May Need Genetic Testing and Counseling
  • Description: Genetic counseling helps you understand your health risks. Learn four reasons for genetic testing and counseling. 
  • Keywords: genetic testing and counseling, reasons for genetic testing, why do I need genetic counseling, genetic counseling, genetic testing

Genetic counseling helps you understand your risk for genetic conditions and how they might affect your family. Before you have genetic testing, a licensed genetic counselor discusses the likelihood of hereditary disorders based on your family’s medical history and your personal health. With this information, they recommend the right tests, interpret your results, and develop a treatment plan.

Why Do I Need Genetic Counseling?

There are many reasons for genetic testing. Depending on your health and history, you might seek counseling or your doctor might refer you.

1. Personal Health Screening

Some changes to genes are inherited and give you a genetic predisposition or susceptibility to certain diseases. If you have close family members who have hereditary conditions, you have a higher likelihood of getting those conditions. 

However, some conditions are influenced by environmental factors, so the risk for disease can vary. Genetic counseling can help you understand this risk.

Genetic screening often includes cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental illness, but there are many other conditions. Your doctor might recommend counseling if you have symptoms or you have close family members who have diseases like:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Lynch syndrome, or hereditary colorectal cancer
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Sickle cell anemia

2. Pregnancy Planning

Genetic counseling before you become pregnant can help you understand how your family history and your health might affect your baby or your ability to get pregnant. 

If gynecological cancer like ovarian cancer runs in your family, you might have a higher chance of getting it. Treatment can lead to infertility, so your doctor might suggest you undergo genetic counseling to understand your risk. If treatment is necessary, a counselor can consider a plan that protects your fertility. 

Genetic testing and counseling can also be helpful if you:

  • Are planning assisted fertility treatments like IVF
  • Have a history of pregnancy loss or infertility
  • Have other children with genetic disorders or birth defects

3. Prenatal Screening

Your midwife or maternity doctor might recommend genetic screening during your pregnancy. Genetic counseling can help if:  

  • An ultrasound or other test shows irregularities
  • You are exposed to some medications or toxins while pregnant
  • You get certain infections while pregnant

A counselor will go over your ultrasound and medical history and will help you understand the results and risks for birth defects or other conditions. With this information, they might suggest further genetic testing or set up a treatment team for your baby’s medical care after birth. 

4. Medical Planning

Getting a better understanding of your health risks allows you to plan for the future and make medical decisions that impact your health. In some cases, early intervention can prevent conditions like cancer and change your health. A genetic counselor processes your results and helps you understand what causes a disease, your risk, what you can do to stop it from developing, and your long-term medical needs. 

How Do You Find a Genetic Counselor?

Your doctor might directly refer you to a genetic counselor or you can schedule an appointment with an expert. Nevada Surgery & Cancer Cancer experts offer genetic counseling and testing for hereditary cancer prevention and risk assessment. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor today.