The Cancer Center at Cookeville Regional has the only full-time genetic counselor between Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.
Genetic counseling is a process of providing information and support about genetics and inherited conditions to an individual or family. The goal of genetic counseling is to provide clear and clinically relevant information about genetic risk factors in a way that both supports and educates.
Most cancers are not hereditary or due to a broken gene that is passed down through the family. In fact, only 5-10 percent of cancers are thought to be due to a broken gene that a person is born with.
The BRCA1/2 genes are the most well-known genes that are reported in the news today. These two genes account for the majority of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers in women, but there are also other genes that are associated with these cancers. Colon, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, kidney, and more rare cancers can also be associated with different hereditary causes.
For most patients, genetic counseling and testing provides patients with the opportunity to be proactive with their health and/or the health of their family members. However, it is important to discuss the appropriateness and implications of genetic testing with a genetic counselor in order to determine if genetic testing is right for you.
A genetic counselor is a board certified, licensed healthcare provider who has expertise in assessing hereditary cancer risk, providing education on genetic testing options, as well as discussing the implications, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing for the patient and their family members.
If you decide that you would like to pursue genetic testing, the genetic counselor is able to assess your personal and family history to make sure that you are tested for the right genes.
Between 5-10% of all cancers are hereditary, which means that changes (or mutations) in specific genes are passed from one blood relative to another.
People who inherit one of these gene changes will have a higher risk of developing cancer at some point in their life. Genetic counseling can help people understand this risk.
There are many steps involved in a genetic counseling consultation.
If you decide to pursue genetic testing, a blood or saliva sample is collected during your initial consultation.
Results are typically available within 1-4 weeks, depending on the type of test ordered. A follow-up consultation is scheduled to review the results, discuss your medical management recommendations, and answer any questions that you may have.