A visit with a genetic counselor may be suggested if you have a family history of an inherited disease, concerns about your risks during pregnancy or are diagnosed with a genetic condition. 

Genetic counselors have specialized training to help individuals and families to understand medical information about their specific genetic concerns, make decisions about their medical care, and be able to manage the associated problems in a way that is best for them and their families.

What does a genetic counselor do?

Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence and review available options with the family.

Genetic counselors also provide supportive counseling to families, serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or state support services. They serve as educators and resource people for other health care professionals and for the general public. Some counselors work in administrative capacities.

Contact a genetic counselor if you have any of the following:

  • More than one family member with breast cancer
  • Have any close family member with ovarian cancer, or if a male in your family has breast cancer
  • Many family members with colon cancer
  • Cancer that developed at a young age
  • Combinations of different cancer types in the family

A Guide to Genetic Counseling

The Genetic Alliance has produced a guide to genetic counseling which includes general information about genetic counseling, tips on how to prepare for an appointment, and details about different specialties in the field. 

Intermountain Healthcare Genetic Counselors

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