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What Is a Genetics Counselor?
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Genetics counselors work as patient _____________ helping you receive additional support and services.
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Hi I’m Hollie Hancock, here today with About.com to answer the question, what is a genetics counselor?

Genetics Counselors Can Determine Potential Risk Factors

So medical and genetic researchers are learning more every day about the correlation between generational links and inherited traits and illness. How do you know if you might be at higher risk for breast cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease? Does it run in your family? Speaking with a genetics counselor is one way to learn of your potential risk factors for things that seem to "run in your family."

Genetics counselors typically have a master’s degree in genetic counseling and have studied genetic diseases and how those diseases run in families. The genetic counselor can help a person or a family understand their risks for genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, or Down’s syndrome. Genetics counselors also educate the person or the family about the disease, and assess the risk of passing those diseases on to their children.

Genetics Counselors Can Interpret Genetic Tests

A genetics counselor will often work with families and family members to identify who might be at risk. If appropriate, they will discuss genetics testing, coordinate the testing, interpret test results, and review all of the information and determine whether surgical, or research options are available to the members of the family.

Another tool that genetic counselors use is called a Genogram, basically a family tree that maps who has had what illness or disease, and what are the chances of this disease being passed genetically to future generations.

Genetic Counselors Work with Health Care Teams

Genetics counselors often work as part of a health care team, as you might imagine, in conjunction with specially trained doctors, social workers, nurses, medical geneticists, or other specialists to help families make informed decisions about their health. They also work as patient advocates, helping you receive additional support and services for your health care needs, should an illness become a reality. In many cases, the medical team will be involved in designing a plan of action for continual medical management.

I’m Hollie Hancock with About.com. Be sure to visit us online.
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