Genetic testing can help you understand how an inheritable gene error — also known as a gene mutation — can affect your risk for certain genetic conditions, including some cancers.
How Does Genetic Counseling with Telegenetics Work?
Your local doctor can help determine whether you’ll benefit from genetic counseling. You’ll be able to take part in a pre-test session with a telegenetic counselor. Our telemedicine services — both video and telephone conferencing — are done over a secure connection in a private setting.
Genetic counseling gives you the advantage of understanding genetic information that can help you make informed decisions about your health care.
A genetic counseling session may include:
- An assessment of your individual inherited risk factors
- A discussion about your genetic testing options
- Education about early detection and risk reduction
One of the benefits of genetic testing Penn Medicine is a cancer screening program that’s tailored to your individual risk. And all of our genetic counseling sessions are done with compassion and respect for your psychosocial health.
How is Genetic Testing Done?
If you decide to have genetic testing, we’ll work with you and your local doctor to arrange a test.
Genetic testing with telegenetics involves the following steps:
Your DNA is collected through a blood test or a saliva collection kit at a site that’s convenient for you.
- Your blood or saliva sample is sent directly to a genetic testing lab.
- In the lab, your DNA is isolated and studied for the presence or absence of inherited mutations in specific genes.
- Your test results are sent to one of our genetic counselors. They’ll work with the Penn Telegenetic Program and your local care team to develop next steps.
- You’ll schedule a one-on-one appointment to discuss the results of your test with your genetic counselor. This session is important to make sure you understand your results and any necessary next steps.
- At the end of that appointment, your local care team will assist you with future directions and decisions for your care.
What Happens if a Test Is Positive for a Genetic Mutation?
Deciding whether or not to have genetic testing is a personal decision. Learning about the presence of an inherited mutation that increases your risk for cancer can affect your whole family. Relatives could learn more about their cancer risk through testing a parent, brother, sister or cousin. This information may or may not be welcome.
We strongly encourage you share genetic testing information with your relatives. However, each family member will need to choose whether or not to be tested on their own. If you are found to have a gene mutation, your family members will be encouraged to consider genetic testing. This will help determine if they, too, inherited the same gene error.
Such knowledge allows family members to take advantage of early detection screening and possible medical options for risk-reduction.
It’s important to remember that genetic testing is not without limitations. Test results may cause anxiety or other emotional distress, and the full cost of testing is not always covered by insurance. Some mutations may not be detectable using current technology, so additional testing could be necessary in the future.