This content is part of a paid partnership with Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA.
Genetic counselling aims to help individuals, couples and families understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, familial and reproductive implications of the genetic contribution to specific health conditions.
Genetic counsellors have specialised education in genetics and counselling, assisting patients to make informed decisions about genetic testing, help them interpret test results and communicate the implications of the results not only for the patient but their family as well.
They also work with doctors to help make appropriate recommendations for ongoing surveillance and management of an increased cancer risk for their patients.
Genetic counselling involves:
- Interpretation of the patient’s personal and family history of cancer to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
- Education on natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, options for genetic testing, management, prevention, and support resources.
- Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values.
- Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the cancer diagnosis in the patient or an affected family member.
Often patients ask, “Why do I need counselling? Can I not just have the test?”
While it is true that genetic counsellors are trained, these skills are most often used in the collection and provision of information. Some of the topics we cover include providing an overview of the genetic testing process and considering the outcomes in the context of an individual and their family.
Genetic testing does not always provide a yes-or-no/black-or-white answer, and it is important that patients understand these limitations as well as other potential implications prior to proceeding. The session provides an opportunity for the patient to raise concerns, ask questions, plan and prepare for the result, and organise relevant management options.
The process is a two-way flow of information aimed at promoting informed decision-making. It helps genetic counsellors to tailor the testing and information for the individual and their family. In addition, genetic counsellors assist with family communication and provide links for valuable support services such as clinical psychology or cancer support groups.
Cancer genetic testing could be considered if:
- An individual is diagnosed with cancer at a young age
- There is a known pathogenic variant identified in the family
- There is a family history of cancer and no living affected individual is available or interested in genetic testing.
Genetic counselling and testing options for familial cancer conditions are now accessible through cancergc.com.au in association with Breast Cancer Research Centre – WA (BCRC-WA) and Perth Breast Cancer Institute (PBCI). The genetic counsellor at cancergc.com.au works closely with the multidisciplinary team at the PBCI to provide an excellent patient-centred care.
This specialist service is focused on offering easy access to clarify whether an inherited gene fault is the cause of cancers that have occurred in an individual or their family. Genetic testing information may change a treatment plan or help in making surgical management decisions. It can also help at-risk family members to understand and adapt to the implications of such conditions.
We offer personalised information in a non-judgmental, non-directive manner, promoting patient autonomy to assist making an informed decision. The service is dedicated to offer an appointment to every patient who is referred, with minimum wait period and quick turnaround time for the genetic test results.
It is easy to make the referral with options including:
- Healthlink ID: breastci
- Through the website: https://cancergc.com.au/referrals
- Fax: 6500 5574
The service also accepts self-referrals from the patients via email: email@example.com or phone call: 6500 5576.
Questions? Contact the editor.
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