What will genetic counselling and genetic testing tell me?
Your quest for healthy living and a happy family arises from a desire to have a predictable and safe future for you and your family. If you have a close family member such as a parent or a grandparent with a health problem, you might want to know if you are at a risk for the disease. Similarly, if you are planning for a child, you may want to know if you or your partner could pass on a disease to your future child. 1 , posing a major threat to public health. Over one million new cancer cases are diagnosed every year, and the number is expected to rise 5-fold by 2025 2 . In fact, today, India ranks third in the world with regard to incidence of cancers.
The issue at hand may be a condition that has affected one or more of your family members and some of these conditions are often referred to as running in the family. Doctors call these “genetic” or “hereditary” health conditions.
Genetic counselling is not as complex as it sounds. It’s a simple conversation with a certified and highly trained genetic counsellor, where you can ask questions, get answers and address concerns about yours as well as your family’s health risk.
Genetic counselling is a process during which, information about the genetic aspects of a disorder and the risks of inheritance or passing on a disorder is discussed by a certified genetic counsellor. The counselling session is meant to provide guidance to those who are at an increased risk of inheriting a disease or of passing on a disorder to their children.
The genetic counsellor will provide you with information on the risk factors of you inheriting a disorder or of their recurrence. The counsellor will address the concerns of not only yours but also your family’s and also help consult with your Doctor. Additionally and more importantly, genetic counsellors also help you deal with the emotional aspects about how a genetic condition can affect a family.
There could be many reasons for an individual to seek genetic counselling. They may have a disorder themselves, or it could be a couple planning their first pregnancy and want to know their risk of passing on a disorder to their child. It could even be couples planning a pregnancy late in life or couples with an affected child and are planning for another pregnancy. Genetic counselling is useful for people at all stages of life, right from a baby being screened to teenagers being tested for Thalassemia or even assessing the predisposition risk of adults entering their mid-life so that they can make necessary lifestyle changes.
Genetic counsellors are trained to support you, so that you can ask them questions, such as:
- Am I or my loved one going to be affected with a healthcare issue?
- Or are my children going to be affected?
- What can be done to treat it?
- How does it affect while I age or what about my emotional well-being?
The answers to the questions you ask are provided during the counselling session. Once you learn about your health status, you can start taking proactive steps for ensuring a healthy future for yourself and for your family. If you are recommended to undergo a genetic test, counsellor will help you understand the test report, guide you and you can discuss it with your Doctor.
A little note about Genetic Testing: This is a type of medical testing that could involve you providing a sample of your saliva / blood or at times even tissue. The test identifies changes in chromosomes, genes or proteins. The test report will help either confirm or rule out a genetic condition. The reports also help determine an individual’s risk of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.
The genetic counsellor will help you understand about the pros and cons of the test as well as discussing the emotional aspects of the testing. Genetic counsellor knows that it is important to have an understanding and support of your family. That’s the reason a genetic counsellor is available to counsel not only you but also counsel and help your family to understand better.
Genetic counsellors at truGeny believe that yours and your family’s health matters the most. The highly personalised service enables you to:
- Know if you have a hereditary risk.
- Stay ahead and help prevent or delay the onset of illness.
- Understand your condition so you can manage better.
- Be informed about your options so you can plan for your future family well.
- Guide you through genetic testing.
If you too have a quest of life, we are always happy to listen and help.