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Genetic counseling and its current importance

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Genetic counseling or genetic counseling is a communicative process of informing, explaining and supporting individuals and families who have a genetic disease or are at risk for it. The genetic counseling team helps patients make informed decisions about the disease.

The risk of developing different types of cancer or other hereditary diseases is increased by the presence of alterations in certain genes. Through the results of a DNA test, the probability or predisposition to develop a certain disease can be determined. Thanks to these genetic analyses, genetic counseling can determine a family’s risk of the disease recurring or appearing for the first time.

Therefore, in order to carry out genetic counseling, it is essential to know the family history. In this way, it can be determined whether the disease will recur or whether the disease developed in a person in the family is due to the presence of a recessive gene.

The importance of genetic counseling

Genetic counseling and genetic specialists

If in a family there are different people affected by the same disease, the most advisable thing to do is to have a DNA test, since the disease probably has an important genetic character. By performing the genetic analysis, it is possible to know whether or not a person is a carrier of the mutation that is related to the disease in question. Once the genetic test has been performed, the next step is to see a genetic counseling specialist.

According to the American Society of Human Genetics, the objectives of genetic counseling are:

  • To inform about the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of the genetic disorder.
  • To allow the understanding of the hereditary mechanism and the probability or risk for the rest of the family members.
  • To raise the different reproductive options to reduce the risk.
  • To favor the individual choice of acceptable options, according to personal risk perception, objectives and values.
  • To facilitate adaptation to the presence of the disorder and its risk of recurrence.

Genetic counseling is advisable before and after undergoing a genetic test, since it is very important to know what information the genetic test will provide you with and how you can deal with it. Once this information is available, the genetic counselor will try to explain how a genetic disease is inherited and how likely it is to be passed on to offspring.

Genetic testing is now available to anyone who chooses to have one. However, most of them are not accompanied by genetic counseling. It is therefore very important to choose a genetic test that includes genetic counseling in order to correctly understand the type of information to be received and what decisions to make in this regard.