Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling

Knowing your genetic makeup and risks helps physicians provide targeted monitoring and earlier treatment. At UCLA, our genetic counselors can help you understand these genetic risks. We provide:

  • Genetic risk assessment: You and your genetic counselor review your personal and family history to identify potential risks. Before your first meeting, you will need to complete a questionnaire about your personal and family history of cancer. You may wish to get information from family members on their cancer history, which allows for a personalized risk assessment. Many types of genetic tests exist, and our genetic counselors help determine the genetic tests that are the best fit for you and your family. 
  • Genetic testing: If appropriate, we can order genetic testing during your genetic risk assessment appointment when you first meet with your genetic counselor. After we get the results, your genetic counselor will explain them to you, including whether you need special monitoring or follow-up for different cancer types.
  • Medical referrals: Medical guidelines exist to help physicians monitor patients with certain genetic risks. Your genetic counselor may provide referrals to specialists based on your unique history and genetic testing results. Our genetic counselors work closely with other UCLA experts. This helps us streamline your medical care and gives you access to high-caliber monitoring, prevention and treatment at UCLA.

Preparing for Your Genetic Evaluation

A genetic counseling appointment is much more than a blood draw. Your genetic counselor will provide a personalized genetic risk assessment, discuss genetic testing options and order appropriate testing, and provide medical referrals and guidance. To accomplish this we need your help. Prior to the appointment we ask that you provide the following:

  • Personal and Family History Questionnaire
    Before your first meeting, you will complete a questionnaire about your personal and family history of cancer. We understand that getting this information from relatives may be difficult, but we ask that gather as much information as you can. Knowing the specific kinds of cancer and the ages when your family members were diagnosed allows for the best estimation of your hereditary cancer risk and the most beneficial genetic testing. Download our Genetic Risk Assessment Questionnaire >
  • Medical Records
    If you have been treated or screened for cancer outside the UCLA Health System, you will need to provide copies of relevant records, including pathology, imaging reports, and genetic test results. If you do not have copies, we will ask that you sign an Authorization for Release of Health Information and we will request records from your outside healthcare provider(s). Download the Authorization for Release of Health Information >
  • Prior Genetic Test Results
    If any of your family members have had genetic testing, we ask that you provide copies of their genetic test reports. These can be hard copies, electronic copies, or even a photo of the document. Please note that we cannot order testing for a familial mutation without your relative’s report.

Insurance and cost

Cancer Genetics counseling

Health insurance almost always covers a genetic counseling consultation and risk assessment. If your personal and/or family history meets certain criteria, genetic testing is covered as well. Your actual out of pocket cost depends on your insurance plan and factors such as unmet deductible and copay. If you have a managed care plan, your doctor may need to request authorization first in order for your appointment to be paid by insurance. The cost of genetic testing has dropped significantly in recent years. We will discuss testing options, insurance coverage, and costs with you in detail during your initial appointment with us.

Additional tips

  • You are welcome and encouraged to bring a spouse/partner, relative or friend to the appointment. Please do not bring young children if possible. We will be discussing personal and sensitive information.
  • Appointments typically take about an hour, but please allow up to 90 minutes.
  • Genetic testing is usually done on a blood or saliva sample. Fasting is not required.
  • Allow plenty of time for traffic, parking and check-in. Click here for directions >

For more about genetic counselors please visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors.