Genetic Counseling :: John Stoddard Cancer Center

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UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

Genetic Counseling

Most cancer happens by chance.  However, in some families there is an increased risk for cancer due to a gene alteration that can be inherited.  Having knowledge of such genetic alterations in a family can allow individuals to make informed decisions regarding cancer prevention through screening, surgeries or additional medical management options.

What is a genetic counseling session?
During a genetic counseling session you will meet with a specially trained health professional and discuss your personal and/or family history of cancer.  This is done to determine your risk of having a genetic alteration that can cause an increased chance for cancer.

What should I expect at a genetic counseling session?
Genetic counseling sessions typically take between 1-2 hours.  During this time you will discuss your medical history and family history.  Typically, a family history questionnaire will be sent to you before your appointment.  This questionnaire is important in gathering relevant information about the family history of cancer and will be used to determine your individualized cancer risk assessment.

Who should consider genetic counseling?
Individuals who have a personal and/or family history that includes any of the following may benefit from a genetic counseling session:

  • Breast, colorectal or uterine cancer diagnosed at an early age (age 50 or younger) or ovarian cancer at any age
  • Multiple family members diagnosed with cancer
  • Several family members diagnosed with the same cancer
  • Two or more types of cancer have been diagnosed in the same person
  • A family member has already been diagnosed with a hereditary cancer or rare type of tumor

Why should I have genetic counseling?
One of the primary goals of genetic counseling is to clarify hereditary cancer risks.  This information may be beneficial to you and your family.  Genetic counseling also provides information and options so you can make an informed decision about genetic testing and your cancer screening and/or management.

Is there a fee for genetic counseling?
There is no charge for the genetic counseling at the John Stoddard Cancer Center.  There is a fee for lab work and genetic testing.  Many laboratories will facilitate pre-authorization from insurance companies before the genetic test is started. Scheduling a genetic counseling session does not mean that you have to undergo genetic testing.  The decision to have genetic testing is a personal decision. John Stoddard Cancer Center does provide genetic testing if that is something you're interested in learning more about.