After the holidays, I often think about my family. Maybe you’re looking back at a holiday dinner conversation or an update on a loved one’s health.
In case you didn’t know, this is also a great time to discuss and learn about your family’s medical history. People with certain genetic alterations may be at higher risk for certain health problems, so knowing your family’s medical history can help you take care of your own health. It helps you and your family proactively deal with potential health problems such as disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.
To prepare you and your patients for this kind of health conversation with their loved ones, we spoke with a UIHC genetic counselor. These specialists specialize in cancer, cardiology, nephrology, neurology, otorhinolaryngology, precision medicine, and women’s health. .
Genetic counselors specializing in cancer, cardiology, nephrology, neurology, ENT, women’s health, and precision medicine all contributed to these responses.
What should I know about genetic counseling?
Genetic counseling can provide information to individuals or families about how certain health conditions are inherited (passed through family members). Genetic counseling is available for many medical specialties and conditions, including cancer, cardiology, prenatal care, neurology, nephrology, pediatrics, and more. Genetic counselors often discuss genetic testing options, but testing is not required to learn more about your risk for a particular condition. can also be discussed. Genetic counselors are members of the health care team and work with other providers to communicate how genetic information affects patient care.
Why is it good to discuss the risk of inherited diseases with family members?
We often meet with relatives who live far away or with whom we are not in close contact. This is a great time to find out if you have a family history of certain health problems. Family history is an important tool to help health care providers identify if you have an increased risk of developing a particular disease. A complete family history includes at least three generations of her. Therefore, discussing family health information with close relatives such as aunts and uncles while on vacation can reveal previously unknown information about past generations in the family.
If you happen to complete genetic testing yourself and find out that you have a genetic disorder, the holidays are also a great time to share this information with your relatives and inform them of potential health risks.
It can be a touchy subject. Any tips on how to navigate conversations with family members?
If you are not happy with this idea, there is no need to have a formal family meeting. You can start with small details or individual conversations and progress to the most important information over time.
For example, you can start by talking about your information and asking questions. “I’ve been tripping and falling lately. Have you noticed anything like this?” While it’s very important to provide accurate information, you may not have to share everything at once. Talking openly about genetic disorders with family members helps everyone understand their own health, especially if they are at risk of developing genetic disorders in the future. Additionally, it is especially important to be open and honest with children about their family’s genetic status in an age-appropriate manner.
A genetic counselor can provide a family letter if you have a positive genetic test result that you would like to share with your family. can convey information.
Each disease is different, right? Are there any general questions to ask when talking to family members?
Indeed, there are many questions you can ask and it can be overwhelming! Here are a few questions to get you started.
- Are you aware of any health problems seen in our family?
- Do you know if anyone in your family has a symptom or condition that your doctor can’t pinpoint? high.”
- Does anyone in the family have an illness that started earlier than expected for the condition? Examples: cancer diagnosed before age 50, children with hearing loss, children with cataracts or progressive vision loss, at a young age heart attack.
Writing down the information you learn (i.e. which relatives, what conditions, age diagnosed, etc.) will help you and your family understand patterns and share this information with your doctor or genetic counselor. It’s the method.
What is the ideal next step if someone is concerned about their risk after discussing it with their family?
Talk to your doctor about your concerns. You may be tempted to look online for answers. However, you may have a lot of information to sort through, and not all of it applies to you and your family. Your doctor may recommend any or all of the following:
- Environmental, lifestyle and dietary changes that can reduce risk
- See a doctor or check-up earlier and more often
- Genetic counseling to further investigate family history, assess risk, and discuss possible testing options
What Questions Do Genetic Counselors Ask?
The types of questions your genetic counselor may ask during your consultation will depend on the type of genetic counselor you are seeing. Address questions. A genetic counselor will also ask you questions about your personal and family health history. A genetic counselor will ask you about your family medical history related to why you were referred. It may be helpful to discuss your family’s medical history with relatives before your appointment. Genetic counselors usually focus on the medical history of your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and your children. If you or your relatives have had genetic testing related to the reason you were referred, it is helpful to bring a copy of the genetic test results if possible.
I believe my patients may have a family history of certain diseases. what can you do to help them?
If the patient is reassured by contacting family members with suspected genetic disorders, encourage the patient to find out more information, such as whether they have had a specific diagnosis or have undergone genetic testing. If individuals with the condition are alive and available for evaluation, they should be evaluated and offered genetic testing. If a genetic diagnosis has already been established in the family, a visit with a genetic counselor may It informs you of risks and helps you find out if predictive genetic testing is right for your patient.
What if the patient does not have many close family members? When should genetic counseling be considered?
Genetic counselors can help people understand the genetic and environmental contributions to human health and disease. It indicates better adherence to recommendations. Also, even if family history is not known, some individuals may be eligible for genetic testing depending on their medical history. In some cases, the results of this test may influence medical management or screening recommendations. Test results may also help enrollment in clinical trials and other research studies.