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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Ankeny)

1055 Southwest Oralabor Road
Ankeny, IA 50023

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Jordan Creek)

180 Jordan Creek Pkwy
West Des Moines, IA 50266

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waukee)

950 E Hickman Rd
Waukee, IA 50263

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Altoona

2720 8th Street Southwest
Altoona, IA 50009

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Ankeny Medical Park

3625 North Ankeny Boulevard
Ankeny, IA 50023

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Ingersoll

2103 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Merle Hay

4020 Merle Hay Road
Des Moines, IA 50310

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Southglen

6520 Southeast 14th Street
Des Moines, IA 50320

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Urbandale

5200 NW 100th Street
Urbandale, IA 50322

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JSCC Providers

Genetic Counseling and Testing

Genetic counseling provides a time to meet with a genetic counselor to evaluate your personal and family medical histories, perform risk assessments, and order genetic testing. Risk assessments provide you with information about your chance of having a genetic condition related to your referral. 

To be seen in the Genetic Counseling Clinic, you will need a referral from your provider. A genetic counseling session lasts about one hour, and is free of charge. Call (515) 241-4607 for more information or to make a referral.

What is Genetic Testing?

Genetic testing reads through the letters of your DNA to look for a genetic answer to you or your family's health conditions. There are many different types of genetic tests that look at specific parts of your DNA.

Having a genetic counseling session does not mean that you are having genetic testing. The genetic counselor will explain the testing process so that you can decide if it is right for you. They will also discuss insurance coverage and the cost of testing. Genetic testing often requires a blood draw, but saliva samples are an option for some tests. 

If testing finds a disease-causing variant or a variant that increases your chance of developing illness, you will be given information on screening, surgeries, or other medical recommendations that can help better prepare a plan for early detection or prevention of that illness. In the case of genetic testing during pregnancy or for family planning, you will be given reproductive management and testing options. This information will be sent back to your doctor so that you can develop a care plan together.

What do I need to know about genetics?

While a prior knowledge of genetics is not needed for a genetic counseling session, we have included some key genetic terms below to provide you with language that may be helpful to when discussing your family history with your provider.

  • DNA – DNA is the set of instructions that tells your body how to work and grow. It is passed down from parents to children, which is why family members may look similar or have the same health conditions.
  • Genetic Variant – DNA is made up of a series of letters, just like a set of instructions that you would read. And just like a set of written instructions, DNA can have misspellings called genetic variants.
  • Disease-Causing Variant – These variants cause the instructions to not be read correctly, causing a genetic condition or an increased chance of developing cancer, among other things.
  • Familial Variant – When DNA is passed down through families, these disease causing variants can be passed down too. We use the term familial variant to refer to disease-causing variants that have already been found in at least one family member.
  • Positive Result – A positive result on a genetic test means that a disease causing variant was found.
  • Negative Result – A negative result on a genetic test means that no disease causing variants were found.

Reasons someone may benefit from genetic counseling:

Personal and Family History of Cancer

Some families have an increased risk for developing cancer due to variants in their DNA that can be passed from parents to children. Knowing about inherited cancer risk can help individuals and their doctors make informed decisions regarding screening, surgery, and other medical management options to detect cancer early or prevent cancer.

Who could find cancer genetic counseling to be helpful?

Anyone who has a personal and/or family history that includes any of the following:

  • Cancer diagnosed at an early age. Examples: breast cancer diagnosed at 45 years old or younger, colorectal or uterine cancer diagnosed at 50 years old or younger
  • Ovarian, pancreatic, or metastatic prostate cancer diagnosed at any age
  • Multiple family members diagnosed with the same cancer
  • Two or more types of cancer diagnosed in the same person
  • Family member diagnosed with a hereditary cancer syndrome via genetic testing

Preconception and Prenatal

Genetic counseling and testing may be helpful for couples considering a pregnancy or who are currently pregnant and want to better understand the chance that their current or future pregnancy could have a genetic condition. 

Who could find cancer genetic counseling to be helpful?

Who could find preconception and prenatal genetic counseling to be helpful?

Anyone considering pregnancy or currently pregnant may see a genetic counselor for any of the following:

  • Genetic testing to determine the chance of having a pregnancy with a genetic condition known to be present in the family
  • Carrier screening to determine their chance of having a pregnancy with a genetic condition not present in the family history
  • Anyone with positive findings on a screening or diagnostic testing results performed during pregnancy

Someone in the Family had a Positive Genetic Testing Result

The Genetic Counseling Clinic at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines offers genetic counseling and genetic testing to help central Iowans determine their risk for developing cancer. When someone in a family has a disease-causing variant found on a genetic test, their family member can get genetic testing to see if they also have the familial variant. This may help them determine their chance of developing the genetic condition found in their family member. Besides cancer, some test results may be related to heart or blood diseases. Those who could benefit the most from this service are those with a family member who has a diagnosis confirmed by genetic testing.

What is a genetic counselor?

Genetic counselors are health care professionals that are trained to evaluate your personal and family medical histories, perform risk assessments, and order genetic testing. Our genetic counselors have master's degrees from certified genetic counseling programs and are licensed by the state of Iowa to provide these services. They also work to ensure that they are up to date on the latest guidelines so that you can be sure you are receiving the best genetics care.

Should I prepare anything before seeing a genetic counselor?

Start thinking about the health of family members, approximate ages, any cancer diagnoses, any diagnoses of the condition of interest, their ages at the time of diagnosis, etc. The genetic counseling clinic may call you with questions or send you an online questionnaire before the session to help you start thinking about these questions. This information will help the genetic counselors provide you with the most accurate assessment of your risk. Based on the information provided, the counselor can tell you if you meet testing guidelines and how this impacts insurance coverage and the cost of testing.

If a family member has had genetic testing, please try to send a copy of the genetic test report to the clinic in advance of the appointment. This will help the genetic counselors prepare for the appointment and determine genetic testing options.