Note: This module was created to demonstrate communication techniques. Some of the medical information may be not be up to date. For the most current medical information on genetic counseling, please visit Clinical Cancer Genetics.
Referral for Genetic Testing
Genetic counseling is a topic of major interest to the general public. If there's a history of several cases of cancers in the family, concerned people may well want to know if they're at increased risk. Today more oncologists, primary care physicians and other healthcare providers are being asked about it. Here's an example of how one might handle a request for a referral.
The counseling before the genetic test is as important as the test result itself. If the person isn't properly prepared then the information could cause confusion, false conclusions and distress.
This scenario portrays a comprehensive history-taking and discussion with the patient in the context of genetic counseling and the discussion of potential results of the blood test. Note that the counselor is careful not to make unrealistic promises about the benefits of genetic testing. She offers a plan for the future, and discusses barriers to testing such as treatment costs and privacy concerns. Throughout, she checked the client's understanding and offers to answer questions.
Disclosing a Positive Result
Here's how the genetic counselor prepares the patient for the result of a genetic test and then proceeds to give the information.
Disclosing a Negative Result
If the test result is negative, it's still very important to set the context for the person so that she understands the significance of the result.
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