If you are interested in getting BRCA tested, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find a genetic counselor who will guide you through the process of knowing your BRCA status.

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Genetic counseling

Genetic counseling is a communication platform for a person who is concerned about the genetic risk of disease (such as hereditary cancers) to discuss his/her personal and family medical history with a genetic counselor. Genetic testing may be provided after genetic counseling as appropriate.


Genetic counselors

Genetic counselors are professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in medical genetics and counseling. While genetic counselors are not necessarily medical doctors, they work as members of a healthcare team and act as a patient advocate as well as a genetic resource to primary care physicians, other clinicians, and families.55

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Role of genetic counselors

Role of genetic counselors

Genetic counselors help people understand genetic information. Their role is to assist in the identification of families at risk for birth defects, or a genetic condition/disorder.56 They help people understand their genetic risks for certain diseases or cancer based on family history.55

Genetic counselors guide and support patients seeking more information about:57

  1. How hereditary diseases and conditions might affect them or their family members.
  2. How family and medical histories may affect the chance of a disease from developing or recurring.
  3. Which genetic tests are suitable, and what the test results would tell them.
  4. How to make informed decisions about medical conditions.

A typical visit with a genetic counselor might include questions about your family history, discussion of treatment options if a mutation is found, or referrals to other resources for help.58

These visits can be useful when deciding whether or not you should be tested, which genetic test is right for you, and what your results mean. Together, you and your counselor will decide if it is appropriate for you or your family members to be tested.58

Importance of pre- and post-test counseling consultation

Importance of pre- and post-test counseling consultation

Genetic counseling is an important first step to knowing your BRCA status. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in getting BRCA tested. Your doctor can help you find a genetic counselor.

It is important to have genetic counseling before and after a genetic test in order to determine the following:48

  1. If a genetic test is suitable for you;
  2. Specific tests that are available;
  3. Accuracy of tests;
  4. How to handle a positive or negative test result;
  5. Possibility of receiving an ambiguous test result;
  6. Emotional risks and benefits of genetic test results;
  7. How genetic test results could impact other family members.

With expertise in counseling, genetic counselors can also provide emotional support as you make decisions and empower you with information for your overall healthcare.

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Hereditary Breast and
Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment

Identifying individuals at increased risk for developing a hereditary breast or ovarian cancer is the critical first step in the process of taking measures for early detection of these cancers. Many risk assessment tools, decision aids, and resources are available to help identify people who may be at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. These tools can also be used to understand the risk factors that put women at high genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Your doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your risks.

Talk to our registered nurse for more information.

54. National Cancer Institute. Genetic counseling. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2021.
55. Who Are Genetic Counselors? Available at: Accessed: July 16, 2021.
56. What Genetic Counselors Do. Available at: Accessed: July 16, 2021.
57. How Can Genetic Counselors Help Me Understand Test Results. Available at: Accessed: July 16, 2021.
58. beBRCAware. Genetic Counseling: An Important Step. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2021.
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