Genetic Counselling

Posted on:20,Oct'18

Posted by: CancerHelpline

Tags: Cancer Allied Services


In recent times, as technology provides stronger insights to treatment of diseases, we are learning about the origins of chronic diseases better. Largely the cause of diseases falls into two buckets – genetic or metabolic. While we cannot definitively attribute the cause to either one or the other, we are now veering towards the fact that cancer could be genetic.

This does mean you directly inherited it from your parents, but it indicates that you may need to understand more about your own genetic predisposition to certain diseases. This helps individuals understand and take control of their health better.

What is Genetic Counselling?

Genetic Counselling is the process by which patients along their family who have a history of some inherited or pre-disposed illness are advised about the risks, consequences and the probability of any illness occurring in the future.

The Genetic Counselling Process

Genetic testing is a process where blood or tissue samples from the individual are taken & analysed, to understand the predisposition to certain diseases. Genetic counselling is the means of managing the entire process of testing by talking, communicating and evaluating options.

The premise of genetic testing is that if you monitor an individual’s genes, you may be able to assess that individual’s risk of certain diseases or illnesses. For instance, one can assess an individual’s risk of certain kinds of cancer based on the family history of the disease. However, genetic testing is not only restricted to cancer, it could be done to assess ones predisposition to any disease.

Genetic testing is never done standalone. Pre-test and post-test counselling is mandatory. As part of genetic counselling, individuals are advised about risks, consequences and probability of illness occurring in future.

Since, counselling is also a precursor to testing, sometimes, it may not even result in testing. And test results could sometimes be deterministic and sometimes, they are only predictive. So, counselling helps individuals make sense of the results, and the course to follow based on the results. At times, this could also lead to extreme actions.

Role of Genetic Counsellor

A genetic counsellor plays a pivotal role in the genetic counselling process. Genetic counsellors, have a complete understanding of the disease and are also trained in psychology.

Counsellors are excellent communicators, who have the capacity to educate individuals undergoing testing. They layout the technical information related to the test to empower the individual to make the right decision.

In India since genetic testing is not mandatory, a lot of individuals avoid taking it up. However, counselling can help to work with people to help them take the step towards taking up a genetic test. The advantages of genetic counselling far outweigh the disadvantages. It helps you take a proactive step in assessing your risk of getting a certain disease.

If you know anyone that needs it, or would like to know more about it, call us on our toll free number at 1800 120 2676.

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