Genetic Counseling and Testing

Meet Our Genetic Counselor

Genetic counseling and genetic testing are key elements in preventive health care. A genetic counselor develops a comprehensive risk assessment by weighing a patient’s personal and family history of cancer, lifestyle and environmental factors. Genetic Counselors seek to support their patients in non-directive manners providing all options of testing and management to every patient and supporting them through the continuum of care.

Our genetic counselor will work with you and your family to create a personalized care plan aimed at lowering the likelihood of developing breast cancer or catching it at the earliest stage possible. Jill M. Harris is here to help men & women take the first step in their health care.

To speak to the Genetic Counselor on call or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at 210-730-9600 or BHS_genetics@baptisthealthsystem.com. To schedule a mammogram appointment please call, (210) 228-9729.

Q1: What is genetic counseling? Do Genetic Counselors only see patients with breast cancer?

  • A: A genetic counselor’s role is to help you make decisions that are both right for you and fully-informed. You will receive guidance about your cancer risk based on the information on your personal and family history you provide, which might include referrals to specialists.Genetic Counselors are certified across the spectrum of medicine. In cancer genetics, Genetic Counselors frequently see patients with a personal or family history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colorectal cancer as well as rare tumors. With new testing options and a variety of new genes being found daily that can be associated with family patterns of cancer it’s important to speak to a genetic counselor to make the most informed decision about genetic testing and ensure the most comprehensive testing is performed for you and your family.During a genetic counseling session, we discuss a patient’s personal and/or family history of cancer. A patient can also expect the following:
  • A discussion of personal and family history of cancer (all types)
  • A cancer risk assessment based on personal risk factors and family history
  • A discussion of screening and risk-reducing options available to manage cancer risk
  • Identification of family members who may be at increased risk
  • Genetic testing if medically appropriate and covered by insurance

Q2: What is the benefit of genetic counseling?

  • A: The benefit of genetic counseling is that it enables both the patient and his/her physicians to better identify cancer risk, management and treatment needs. Annual screenings, preventative surgeries and even risk-reducing medications are available for individuals known to have a hereditary cancer syndrome, and are established by national guidelines.Additionally, genetic counseling before and after genetic testing (pre- and post-test genetic counseling) is beneficial as the goal of each session is to properly educate the patient on both genetic and cancer risk as well as appropriate management options.

Q3: Which physicians typically refer patients for genetic counseling?

  • A: The majority of patients referred for cancer genetic counseling are referred by their primary care doctor, OBGYN, gastroenterologist, medical oncologist, or surgical oncologist. These physicians often work with men or women that have an increased risk for cancer development based on their personal and/or family history.While a physician of any specialty can refer a patient for cancer genetic counseling, physicians in these specialties may have received additional education or training on the importance of family health history.

Q4: Which physicians does a cancer genetic counselor work closely with?

  • A: Because individuals with hereditary cancer syndromes often have an increased risk to develop more than one type of cancer, these patients typically have a “team” of provider. These providers often include, but are not limited to, a genetic counselor, an OBGYN for women, a medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, and in some cases gastroenterologists and/or endocrinologists.

Q5: Is genetic counseling and testing covered by insurance?

  • A: Genetic Counseling:Genetic counseling (consultation visit) is a complimentary service offered through the Baptist Breast Centers. Pre- and post-test genetic counseling is beneficial because the goal of each session is to properly educate the patient on both genetic and cancer risk as well as appropriate management options to make informed decisions about how to manage cancer risk.Genetic Testing:
    Genetic testing is available and typically covered by insurance companies when a patient’s personal and/or family history meets specific National Comprehensive Cancer Network criteria (www.nccn.org). Some insurance companies require an individual with cancer to be tested first, while other insurance companies will cover genetic testing for individuals who have not been diagnosed with cancer.Because every insurance company is different, insurance coverage for genetic testing is discussed with each patient prior to his/her genetics consultation and prior to any genetic testing.

Q6: How can I locate a genetic counselor?

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  • A: Genetic counselors are available through the Baptist Breast Center. While our offices are located at Baptist Breast Center sites, we see patients with a variety of cancers (colon, uterine, ovarian, etc.). To reach a Genetic Counselor simply call 210-730-9600 and ask for the Genetic Counselor on Call.

For Physicians:

If a patient has a family history of cancer, how do I refer him/her for genetic counseling?

  • A: If you identify a patient as appropriate for genetic counseling, or have a patient who is interested in genetic counseling and/or genetic testing, please fax the following to 210-730-9693, ATTN: Genetics:
    • (1) patient demographics,
    • (2) insurance card,
    • (3) relevant clinic notes
  • We will contact your patient for an initial phone consultation and then schedule them for formal genetic counseling and/or genetic testing. By sending a referral, you are consenting to stand as the ordering physician for any genetic testing.You will receive a risk and recommendations letter and genetic test result (if applicable) for every patient you refer. Please call the Genetic Counselor on Call at 210-730-9600 or email us at BHS_Genetics@baptisthealthsystem.com with any questions or concerns you may have regarding our processes.

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