FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions: Genetic Counselling
What is Genetic Counselling?
Genetic counselling is available to individuals, families, or couples. It is a way to learn about genetic or hereditary disorders and the chance that they are passed on to future generations. This information helps people make decisions about their health, their pregnancies, and their children’s health.
Who will I be seeing?
You will either meet with a Genetic Counsellor or a Medical Geneticist, and sometimes both. A Genetic Counsellor is a specially trained health professional. A Medical Geneticist is a medical doctor who has special training in Genetics.
Canadian Certified Genetic Counsellors (CAGC – Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors brochure)
What happens at your Genetic Counselling appointment?
Medical information about you and/or your child and your family will be reviewed often using a family tree drawn up from a general family history questionnaire or, if you were referred because of a personal or family history of cancer, a cancer family history questionnaire. In some cases a physical examination may also be necessary. If an inherited disorder is found, you will then be given the medical facts of the disorder, and its symptoms, and how it is passed on in families.
What do I bring?
If asked, you should bring family photos and previous medical reports.
Will I be tested?
Not every patient who comes for genetic counselling is tested. During your appointment, the Geneticist or Genetic Counsellor will talk with you about various testing options available to you and your family. Most testing is done on a blood sample.
Do I have to pay for anything?
Genetic Counselling and testing is usually covered by your provincial health care insurance. Exceptions may occur and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Always bring you/your child’s health cards.
How long will I be there?
Appointments usually take about one hour. This gives you plenty of time to ask the doctor or genetic counsellor questions. Please try to arrive 10 minutes before your appointment so that registration can be completed first.
What if I need to cancel my appointment?
Please call the clinic at least 24 hours before to cancel or re-schedule.
Interpreters are available in many languages. It is best to arrange for their services in advance. Please tell us if you will need their help, and we will make arrangements with an interpretation agency.
Welcome to the Genetics Clinic (1.1MB PDF file)