Why Genetic Counseling & Testing?

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Genetic counseling and testing can give you valuable, precise information for your life.

What Happens During a Genetic Counseling Session?

When you meet with a genetic counselor, we’ll draw family trees as we’re talking and ask detailed questions about personal and family medical histories. Our goal is to gather as much information as we can about the health history of your family.

We use this family history to map out your possible cancer risks and see which factors need to be analyzed in a personalized genetic test of your blood or other fluids.

The Role of the Genetic Counselor

While any provider can order a basic genetic test, only trained genetic counselors have the ability to design a test specifically for you.

Using your detailed personal and family histories, genetic counselors can see which genes should be included in your genetic testing. By targeting this testing to your particular situation, they can interpret results with a high level of accuracy and detail.

The Benefit of Customized Genetic Tests

Broad genetic tests or direct-to-consumer genetic tests, on the other hand, don’t test for all possible genetic factors, nor do they look at the genes most relevant to your situation.

Popular genetic tests may miss crucial information and provide an incomplete picture of your risk.

Testing the Tumor for a Complete Picture

We also perform genetic testing on the cancer itself. Every cancer has its own genetic makeup.

Cancer grows from cell tissue that has changed, due to a combination of genetic changes. A cancer thus has its own DNA, distinct from the DNA of other cancers in other people and from the DNA of the person it’s affecting. We can take this information and get clues about what’s in the rest of your body. Doctors may also use this information for your cancer treatment.

Genetic Consultation: Creating a Plan

When your test results return, you’ll need guidance. Whether or not you have a higher chance of developing cancer we’re here to help you understand your risks and options. Sometimes genetic tests have uncertain or complex results. We’re here to help.

In conjunction with specialists throughout UVA Health, we figure out what screenings and treatments you’ll need. We’ll connect you to the right clinics, so you know what to do and where to go next. You’ll leave us with a clear plan on how best to care for yourself and your family.