Genetic Counseling


Certain conditions and diseases, including some types of cancer, are hereditary or inherited. It is important to determine if cancer is hereditary in a family as it is then more likely to affect relatives of affected individuals. Your oncologist at SCOA or primary care provider will usually determine if you are a candidate for genetic counseling.

At SCOA, the genetic counselor, who is board-certified in the field, may advise you about your risk for developing certain cancers, based on your family history. A genetic counselor may also provide information to an individual already affected with cancer regarding potential risk of developing other cancers in the future. A genetic counselor is an individual with a Masters’ level degree in Genetic Counseling or Human Genetics who is trained in providing:

  • Cancer Risk Assessment
  • Explanation of benefits, limitations and risks of genetic testing
  • Discussion of testing results put in the context of the patient’s history
  • Understanding of the implications of hereditary cancer for patient and the family
  • Roadmap for future medical management (surgery, screening, lifestyle)
  • Materials and other resources about hereditary cancer

Preparing for a Cancer Genetic Counseling Visit

At your first genetic counseling visit, the genetic counselor will gather some family history information, draw a three- to four-generation family history (or pedigree), documenting which relatives had cancer, the type of cancer they had, and the age at which they were diagnosed. During this part of the visit, the genetic counselor will perform a cancer risk assessment and determine if you are a candidate for genetic testing.

If you are a candidate for genetic testing, the genetic counselor at SCOA will work with you, your physician and your insurance company to coordinate your genetic testing. Most often, genetic testing is performed using a small sample of blood from your arm. When the results are available, the genetic counselor will work with you and your doctor to help put the information in context of your diagnosis.

The SCOA genetic counselor works alongside the SCOA oncologists and other medical professionals to offer cancer screening strategies along with prevention and treatment options. The SCOA genetic counselor offers caring and compassionate support for patients and families experiencing the emotional, psychological and social impact from a diagnosis of hereditary cancer.

South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA) is the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in South Carolina that provides medical, radiation and gynecological oncology as well as important patient support services such as genetic counseling – all in one convenient location.