What to Expect during a Clinical Genetics Service Appointment

What to Expect during a Clinical Genetics Service Appointment

Margaret Sheehan

Genetic counselor Margaret Sheehan works with patients and families that have a history of cancer.

Your first genetic counseling session will focus on questions and concerns about your risk or your family’s risk for cancer. We will explain how genetic testing works. We also will help you decide which genetic tests, if any, may be useful for you. Our goal is to provide clear and relevant information about genetic risk factors in a supportive and educational environment.

As part of your first session, we will ask you detailed questions about you and your family’s medical history.

We will ask you about:

  • your overall medical history, such as any health conditions you may have
  • details about any cancers or polyps that you have been diagnosed with
  • your age at diagnosis
  • information about the pathology of your tumor or polyps
  • whether you had any risk-reducing procedures (for example, having the uterus or ovaries removed)

We will also ask you about your family members:

  • the types of cancer they’ve had
  • the age they were when diagnosed (if applicable, we’ll also ask you when they died)
  • whether they’ve had any risk-reducing procedures

In some situations, medical records and pathology reports regarding family members’ cancer diagnoses may be required. A medical record request form can be used to request records from other hospitals or clinics. The form must be signed by someone who is authorized to release that information, either the individual or their next of kin.

If a family member was previously treated at MSK, we cannot discuss details of their case unless they have provided us with written permission. You will need to have your family member sign a privacy release form to authorize our office to share their genetic testing information with you.