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How to Find a Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors are trained professionals who can provide a personal and family risk assessment for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation that causes Hereditary Breast or Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC), education about the particular condition, genetic testing (if indicated) and the referrals and resources if you are found to have HBOC. To find a genetic counselor please visit the which is maintained by the Society of Genetic Counselors.

You can also contact the UCSF genetic counselors through Kintalk at by clicking here.

What you need for your genetic counseling appointment:

- Information about family members who have had cancer
- Specific cancer diagnoses (second primary cancer, recurrent cancer, etc.)
- Age at cancer diagnosis
- Copies of any medical reports available (pathology reports, genetic test results, death certificates, etc.)
- Information about family members who have not had cancer
- Current age or age of death in family members diagnosed with cancer
- Screening practices (mammography, colonoscopy, ect.)
- Insurance card- most insurances will pay for genetic counseling and genetic testing
- Relatives positive genetic test result*

*If a family member has had a genetic test and has tested positive for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
you will need to bring a copy of their genetic test result to your genetic counseling appointment. These results are very important in ensuring that your genetic counselor orders the correct genetic test for you.

What to expect at a genetic counseling appointment

Genetic counseling usually requires at least one face-to-face visit with a trained genetic counselor. The first session often involves:

- reviewing your personal and family history,
- reviewing medical records
- education on cancer and hereditary cancer syndromes like HBOC
- a risk assessment for a potential hereditary cancer predisposition in you and your family.

Genetic testing may be offered to you at the first appointment or more information may need to be gathered.  Sometimes a genetic counselor will recommend that a relative who has been diagnosed with cancer be tested instead of you as there is a higher chance of finding a genetic mutation in a person affected with cancer than a person without a cancer diagnosis. If you do undergo genetic testing then you will be asked to come back for a results visits to discuss your genetic test results and their interpretation.

To find out more about genetic counselors and genetic counseling click here.