Steps in Genetic Testing and role of Genetic Counsellors

Breast cancer risks looms on many women, who are unaware. What would they ask if they knew their future risks today? Nobody wants to be in a helpless situation at any point in life. Maybe they would ask a better question today and act wisely. Genetic testing for genetic mutations and hereditary diseases can help you to arrive at questions. A genetic counsellor helps in answering these questions. Genetic counselling goes hand-in-hand with genetic testing for breast cancer. Many women may assume that genetic test provides either a positive or a negative result.”role of genetic counsellors”

genetic counsellor, genetic counsellor india, genetic counsellor online, genetic counselors near me, role of genetic counsellors

As I learned later, breast cancer genetic test is unlike a diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests provide results in binary, similar to an exam cut-off list saying “pass or fail”. But now I know genetic test for breast cancer is different, read further to know it yourself and share it with everyone.

Let me tell you about my journey as a health seeker for preventive action against breast cancer. Talking to a genetic counsellor is a pretty relaxing experience in itself. The first time I talked to a genetic counsellor, I felt they ask lots of questions. But the counsellor patiently listened to what I had to say. This discussion helps unravel the personal and family medical history. Busy in daily routine I may have also ignored these “clues” of family health issues. I believe they take use certain medical guidelines to ascertain that all supporting information is collected and looked into. They are trained for this as part of their education and are certified to guide you. Collecting the personal health and family health history is a critical first step and in-depth discussion. I wasn’t persuaded to go for testing unnecessarily. I felt happy that the decision of opting for a genetic test or not opting for it, was in my hands.

The genetic counsellor also told me about the steps involved in genetic testing for BRCA mutations. There are tests that can look into DNA genetic cancer risk test and hereditary cancer risk test. Women who have a family member with breast cancer, have a certain degree of increased risk. Depending on my health and family’s health history the genetic counsellor may suggest a particular type of test. If I decide to be tested, a sample of blood or saliva will be collected. It is analysed in the laboratory and reports are prepared. It will have statistic estimation of my risk of cancer based on the BRCA and other genetic mutations. Having one or multiple genetic mutation may not necessarily result in acquiring the disease. But it increases the risks and predisposition to breast cancer.

The role of a genetic counsellor doesn’t end after the report is provided to me or my Doctor. Post the test, the genetic counsellor will discuss and explain how the results affect my risk of cancer. Almost every year there are new developments in genetic science. There’s a need for an expert who can utilise scientific and medical knowledge and explain the pros and cons in a simple language. With new developments, there could be new findings for my own health. As a layman I liked the lucidness of the discussion with genetic counsellor and would like to relook at my risks every couple of years.

If you are thinking that genetic counselling and testing is what you need to assess breast cancer risk for you or a loved one. I have prepared a few questions, you can ask these questions to a genetic counsellor at truGeny.

  • How can my family history show a risk of breast cancer?
  • Should I be tested if a family member or a relative had suffered from the disease?
  • How can I reduce my risks or prevent breast cancer?
  • I have delayed my pregnancy, will it increase risk?
  • Which test is suited, how reliable is the test?
  • How does age, body weight, diet affect the risks?
  • If the test results show risk, then what will I do next?

Having a predisposition to breast cancer could mean, you have to be on an increased surveillance, consult Doctor for medication to lower your risk or consult an oncologist. If there’s no risk to you, that’’s good news. Delaying a step or taking a decision without complete understanding could aggravate issues later. Always remember that it is about your femininity, family and positivity in life. Let’s take a proactive approach to health.