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What is genetic counseling?

Genetic counseling is a process that includes collecting a detailed personal and family history, a risk assessment, and a discussion of genetic testing options. The risks, benefits and limitations of the available testing options and personalized cancer screening and risk reduction recommendations are also discussed during the counseling sessions.

Can I just have genetic testing without counseling?

No. The major oncology organizations (American Society of Clinical Oncologists, National Comprehensive Cancer Network) recommend that anyone that needs genetic testing should have counseling before and after testing. Counseling is an integral part of the testing process and is essential to ensure that the correct test is ordered and for accurate result interpretation and medical management.

Why do I need to see a cancer genetics specialist?

The cancer genetic counseling and testing process (including which test to order and interpreting the results correctly) can be quite complex. Studies have shown a high rate of genetic test result misinterpretation among providers who do not specialize in this area. Due to the complexities of this process and the risk of result misinterpretation, it is recommended that individuals interested in pursuing cancer genetic counseling and testing see a cancer genetics specialist.

How would I use the results of genetic counseling and testing?

This information will help to estimate a person’s true risks of developing cancer and to develop a personalized plan for surveillance and management based on those risks. It can also be very useful to the entire family. These issues will be discussed in depth in the counseling sessions.

Will my insurance pay for genetic counseling?

Insurance companies may or may not cover the counseling associated with our program. Check your insurance policy or check with your insurance carrier to verify coverage and to see if they require a referral from your primary care physician.

Will my insurance pay for genetic testing?

Which genetic test, if any, would be most appropriate and who in the family (ideally) should be tested first, will be determined after your first session. The cost of that testing and the insurance coverage authorization process will be discussed with you. Letters of medical necessity are sometimes required and will be provided for you after your first session, if needed.

Are there risks of billing these costs to my insurance company?

It does not appear that billing health insurance companies for cancer genetic counseling or testing represents a major risk. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, was signed into law in May of 2008 to protect patients against genetic discrimination by health insurers and employers. However, future coverage for life and disability insurance may be affected by such services, particularly if you are not a cancer survivor.

What information should I bring to my first counseling session?

The more information you give us, the more accurate your counseling will be. We can collect some of the following information after your first session; however, it would be ideal for you to collect it before your first appointment. If you have had cancer, please bring a copy of your pathology reports to the first counseling appointment. You will be asked questions about your family members, particularly your brothers, sisters, parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. If any of them have had cancer, please find out the primary site of the cancer and their age at diagnosis. Pathology reports are very helpful. If any of your family members have had genetic testing, please bring a copy of the actual test results.

Do I need a referral from my physician for genetic counseling?

Our program does not require a referral, but your insurance may. Please check with your particular carrier and policy on this issue.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Please contact our main office directly at (337) 289-8400 to schedule your appointment. Genetic counseling is also offered at the Cancer Center of Acadiana satellite clinic in Abbeville, contact (337) 898-6413.