Genetic Counselors for Hereditary Colon Cancer Syndromes

Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Colon Cancer Syndromes

Development of this resource was generously supported by Myriad Genetics. 

Genetic counseling is a special healthcare service provided by genetic counselors. Most genetic counselors have a master’s degree in genetic counseling, medical genetics, or another related field, and are certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.


Genetic counselors provide information and support to individuals and families who have, or are at risk for a hereditary condition. Hereditary cancer is one of many sub-specialties within genetics.


Genetic counselors work in collaboration with you and your other medical providers in your community, or as members of a healthcare team at expert care facilities. The healthcare team may include:


  • gastroenterologists

  • genetic counselors

  • dietitians

  • endocrinologists

  • gynecologists

  • breast specialists

  • nurses

  • tumor registrars

  • oncologists

  • surgeons


For patients who do not have access to expert care facilities, genetic counselors are available through telephone services.


What does a genetic counselor do for me?


Genetic counselors can help you need to make informed, personalized decisions about your health, as they relate to your particular hereditary colon cancer syndrome. Genetic counselors can:


  • Evaluate your personal and family history to determine whether there is an underlying cause of the cancers in the family,

  • Provide information and guidelines that you, your family members, and your doctors can utilize to reduce the risk of cancer and other potential health risks,

  • Discuss genetic testing options to confirm your diagnosis, as well as coordinate the test

  • Explain your genetic results, and interpret the results as they relate to your family history

  • Provide information about your particular hereditary colon cancer syndrome,

  • Help you communicate with family members who may benefit from this information and/or genetic testing

  • Help you understand how genes are inherited from your parents and passed to your children

  • Help process feelings you may have about this information.


A genetic counselor is familiar with the many types of challenges that occur in families with hereditary conditions. They can be a source of support throughout the diagnosis, genetic testing, personal health care plan development, and family planning processes.


How do I find a genetic counselor in my area?


There are several options for finding a genetic counselor:


1) Ask your doctor for a recommendation or referral.


2) Search our Provider Directory for a list of medical professionals experienced with HCC.


3) Search for a counselor by location, area of specialty, or hospital on the National Society of Genetic Counselors website, using the “Find a Genetic Counselor” tool.


4) Search for a counselor by cancer type, family cancer syndrome, location, or last name on the National Cancer Institute website, using the NCI Cancer Genetics Services Directory


5) If you do not have a genetic counselor in your area, or would prefer to receive counseling by phone, there are counseling services available through companies like Informed DNA.






1. What happens during a genetic counseling appointment? Will insurance cover the cost?

2. What is genetic testing? Do I need it?

3. If my doctor doesn't work with a genetic counselor, how can I get an appointment?

4. What's the best way to share my diagnosis with my relatives?

5. What advice do others have for discussing hereditary colon cancer with children?



Information used in the development of this page was sourced from the NSGC and KinTalk, a service of the University of California, San Francisco and reviewed by the Foundation's Patient Education Committee.