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Genetic Testing & Counseling

The field of genetics is rapidly changing. What medications will work best for you? Are you or your family members at risk for cancer? Genetic tests at Avera can help answer these questions and more.

Genetic Counseling for Expectant Parents

As you think of starting or expanding your family, you may be concerned about inherited or sporadic genetic disorders. Get the information you need to make thoughtful health care decisions for yourself and your family through genetic testing. You’ll work with Avera’s team of experts who specialize in prenatal genetic testing and counseling, including the only fellowship-trained maternal fetal medicine geneticists in the tri-state area.

You’ll learn about:

  • Your risk of passing on genetic disorders to your children
  • The nature and consequences of genetic disorders
  • Options to manage, prevent or reduce the effects of genetic disorders
  • Risk factors of concern, but unrelated to genetic tendency for disease
  • How to prepare for test results and the arrival of children who may have special needs
  • Prenatal care services you may benefit from

You may also consider genetic testing to find out carrier status for several common health conditions or genetic conditions that are found in your family.

When to Consider Prenatal Genetic Counseling

Your doctor may suggest adding a genetic counselor to your comprehensive Avera health care team in situations such as:

  • Family history of a genetic condition
  • Pregnancy in women over age 35
  • Increased risk of complications or birth defects from non-genetic factors, including diabetes, diet, medication exposure, recreational drug use and more
  • Concerns about findings from prenatal ultrasound and/or other screening tests
  • Pregnancy following the birth of a child with a genetic condition

Remember, many expectant parents who participate in genetic counseling go on to experience uncomplicated pregnancies and welcome healthy babies.

Genetic Counseling for Cancer

If you’ve wondered about your risk for cancer or about your kids’ risk for cancer, talk to a genetic counselor at Avera Cancer Institute to find answers to your questions. During the visit you’ll receive the information you need to make future health care decisions about cancer screening and genetic testing.

Through a genetic test, you and your providers may gain insight to determine how to better prevent cancer or catch it in its earliest stages. It can also provide additional information about whether you and your family members need to proactively prevent and screen for cancer, for example, through more frequent or more extensive screenings.

Common examples include mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes which cause a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and gene mutations for Lynch syndrome, which predisposes people to colon and endometrial cancers.

When to Consider Cancer Genetic Counseling

Your provider may suggest talking to a genetic counselor if your personal or family history includes any of the following:

  • Multiple family members with the same type of cancer or related cancers, such as breast/ovarian/pancreatic or colon/uterine/ovarian
  • Cancer that occurs at an early age (under 50 years old)
  • Rare cancers, such as male breast cancer, medullary thyroid cancer or ovarian cancer
  • More than one cancer in the same family member
  • Family history of a known gene mutation, including BRCA1 and MLH1
  • Multiple colon polyps
  • Jewish ancestry and family history of breast or ovarian cancer (certain ethnicities have higher frequencies of certain genetic disorders)

For more information about genetics in medicine, check out Genetics 101 and other resources from the Human Genome Project at the National Human Genome Institute.

How You Benefit from Genetic Counseling

When you visit with an Avera professional for genetic counseling, you’ll be equipped to:

  • Make the healthiest choices for your household
  • Decide how to best meet your health care needs
  • Make informed decisions about testing options
  • Better understand tests and test results
  • Feel greater comfort with your plan of action

Precision Oncology at Avera Cancer Institute

Get targeted cancer therapy based on your genetic makeup and genetic changes—a first for the Northern Plains—delivered with the same level of expertise you’d find at major medical centers. Learn more about Precision Oncology through the Avera Cancer Institute program.

Am I a Candidate for a Personalized Medicine Test?

You may qualify for the simple blood draw if you answer YES to any of these questions:

1 - Do you take five or more medications?

2 - Do you feel like your medications aren’t working?

3 - Are you over 65 years of age?

4  -Do you experience unwanted side effects from your current medications?

5 - Did you experience unwanted side effects from medications you took in the past?

6 - Have you been hospitalized in the last 30 days for a medication-related issue?

7 - Have you been diagnosed with or experienced one or more of the following conditions?

  • Acid reflux
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma or COPD
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack and/or heart surgery
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Mental health condition
  • Migraine headache

Moving Health Forward

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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