Genetic Counseling

“Knowledge is power.”

There is no other aspect of our lives where that statement is truer than when it comes to our health. And Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital offers genetic counseling to give people the information they need when it comes to their risk of cancer.

Genetic counseling is a service that can provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your family and medical histories. Through a detailed family history and genetic testing, you will be empowered with information about your genetics and your providers will be better able to help you manage or stave off potential future health problems.

Who Should See a Genetic Counselor?

If you have a personal or family history of the following, you should consider a genetic counseling appointment (not a comprehensive list):

  • Known syndrome/mutation in the family
  • Breast cancer in 2+ individuals on the same side of the family, especially if a young diagnosis (<50 years old) or a triple negative (ER/PR/her-2) breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer (with or without a history of breast and/or colorectal cancer)
  • Colorectal cancer in 2+ individuals on the same side of the family OR colorectal cancer in an individual younger than 50 years old OR the presence of colorectal and endometrial cancer
  • Renal cell cancer in 2+ individuals on the same side of the family
  • Pancreatic cancer in 2+ individuals on the same side of the family
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Medullary
  • Papillary, particularly with breast or endometrial cancer
  • Paraganglioma 
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Adult and childhood cancers
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and any cancer

What to Expect at a Genetic Counseling Appointment?

At your genetic counseling appointment, you will meet with a Genetic Counselor who will focus on collecting a detailed family and medical history. A discussion will follow regarding particulars about genetics (What exactly is a gene? How might this affect my children?)  and what options are available. If testing is appropriate and elected, genetic testing will be coordinated and shipped to the appropriate lab. A follow up appointment to receive results will then be scheduled.

What Should I Bring to my Appointment?

The more information a Genetic Counselor has, the more comprehensive and focused analysis they can provide. Some of the things that are helpful to bring to an appointment are:

  • Information about family members who have had cancer
  • Diagnosis
  • Age at diagnosis
  • Treatment plans
  • Information about your cancer (if you have been diagnosed)
  • Pathology reports
  • Clinical notes
  • Information about any procedures that have been performed on you or a family member (colonoscopy, hysterectomy, thyroidectomy, biopsy, etc)
  • A support person(s)

How Do I Make an Appointment?

Call Sentara Martha Jefferson Hematology and Medical Oncology Associates at 434-654-8390.

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