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Genetic Counselling – Maximum Benefits Prior to Diagnosis of a Disease

150 150 Shefali Sabharanjak

Genetic Counselling- Maximum Benefits Prior to Diagnosis of a Disease

You are healthy. There is nothing really wrong with you. Yet you have heard of this service called ‘Genetic Counselling for Breast Cancer’ offered by Strand Life Sciences. Should you really go ahead and make use of it?

What is Genetic Counselling?

We often find that a lot of common knowledge about complex and disturbing diseases like cancer is highly inaccurate. Things start out as stories and incidents that have happened to someone and get passed around from person to person. In this game of Chinese whispers, every time information gets passed around it changes a little until bit-by-bit, it no longer resembles the original information.

Genetic counselling can help to clear such doubts and misinformation that you might have. Diseases like cancer can also raise anxiety in the person suffering from it as well as in caregivers. It is expected that a patient will feel anxious about various issues related to cancer. However, an observed trend is also the anxiety amongst people who perceive themselves at risk for familial cancer or amongst those who have lost family members to cancer.

You can watch a video about what happens at a genetic counselling session, here: http://strandls.com/stayaheadofcancer/

So, does genetic counselling help? Or would you rather go by the old saw, do not trouble trouble, until trouble troubles you? Turns out, that there have been studies that have examined the impact of genetic counselling in women who have been affected as well as unaffected by breast cancer. One such study was conducted by a group of psychologists from Australia1. These researchers have estimated the levels of knowledge and awareness about breast cancer in a group of 128 women. All these women were at risk for hereditary breast cancer. A questionnaire was used in the beginning of the study to assess the level of awareness of the participants and another one was provided at the end of a 12-month follow-up. As it turns out, the counselling sessions provided two major benefits:

  1. The participants’ knowledge of breast cancer genetics had increased significantly, post counselling
  2. The participants’ feelings of anxiety had reduced considerably because of the awareness created by the counselling sessions

These findings are quite important and show that genetic counselling can actually benefit women who are at risk.
Another smaller study has gone a step ahead and also provided counselling about getting regular breast self- exams and MRI surveillance to women who were at high-risk for breast cancer. These sessions resulted in increasing the frequency of these self-checking measures in the group of women that received the instructional training2.

So, all–in-all, it seems that receiving information well in advance can actually help to step up defenses against breast cancer. We have genetic counsellors at Strand who can help you understand your personal risk for development of breast as well as other cancers. Call at 1800-1022-695 to have a chat with us!

AUTHOR

Shefali Sabharanjak

All stories by: Shefali Sabharanjak