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CoxHealth Will Offer Genetic Counseling Screening

You can find out next week if you might benefit from genetic counseling and testing. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

Knowing that you have a genetic risk for certain diseases can help you plan for the future. And genetic testing can tell you that, but it’s not for everyone. Thursday July 22nd, CoxHealth will offer a screening to help you determine if you are a candidate for genetic counseling and testing.Mary Owen is genetic counselor at CoxHealth. She says the screening will help you find out if you are at risk for developing an inherited illness…

"Whether or not we thing genetic testing is right is based on their own medical history as well as their family history, and we look for key features such as young ages of onset, lots of people in a family diagnosed with certain conditions or patterns within the family history."

During the five to ten-minute screening, Owen will go over family history and the possibility of inherited diseases.According to Owen, genetic testing can tell a person whether or not they’re predisposed to certain conditions such as specific types of cancer or neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.One benefit to having it done, she says, is medical management…

"Being able to help prevent disease. Being able to know what to expect and so we're better prepared for it."

Family members might also benefit, she says, so they have an idea of what to expect in the future.Some risks of genetic testing include the fear of genetic discrimination…

"Most people are concerned about health insurance and employment. We do have some laws to protect against genetic discrimination but it's not 100 percent protection, and there's obviously, as with any law, some people that it doesn't apply to."

Despite the risk, Owen says several people choose to have genetic counseling done each year. And she says, while most of her patients tend to be younger, some elderly people choose genetic testing to learn more about their family’s health history. She says they want to share that knowledge with their children and grandchildren. To register for the Genetic Counseling Screening, call 269-INFO.For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.