Cookeville Regional Medical Center offers genetic counseling for those seeking information about their health.

Why See A Genetic Counselor?

Most cancers are not hereditary or due to a broken gene that is passed down through the family. In fact, only 10 percent of cancers are thought to be due to a broken gene that a person is born with. 

The BRCA1/2 genes are the most well-known genes that are reported in the news today. These two genes account for the majority of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers in women, but there are also other genes that are associated with these cancers. Colon, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, kidney, and more rare cancers can also be associated with different hereditary causes.

For most patients, genetic counseling and testing is empowering. It provides patients with the opportunity to be proactive with their health and/or the health of their family members. However, it is important to discuss the appropriateness and implications of genetic testing with a genetic counselor in order to determine if genetic testing is right for you.

What Is A Genetic Counselor?

A genetic counselor is a board certified, licensed healthcare provider who has expertise in assessing hereditary cancer risk, providing education on genetic testing options, as well as discussing the implications, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing for the patient and their family members. If you decide that you would like to pursue genetic testing, the genetic counselor is able to assess your personal and family history to make sure that you are tested for the right genes.

Ashley Cohen,MS, LCGC
Ashley Cohen, MS, LCGC

Who Should Consider Having A Genetics Risk Assessment?

  • Personal or family history of cancer diagnosed at young ages (<50 years old)
  • Same type of cancer in multiple relatives on the same side of the family
  • Strong family history of multiple types of cancers
  • Personal history of >10 colon polyps
  • Personal or family history of rare cancers (i.e. ovarian, stomach, pancreatic, kidney cancers, etc)
  • Personal or family history of a genetic mutation already detected by prior genetic testing

What Happens During A Genetic Counseling Appointment?

  • Assess personal and family history to determine the likelihood of a hereditary cancer risk
  • Address implications of genetic testing, including the impact on medical management as well as family members
  • Review the possible results, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
  • Discuss genetic testing options
  • Identify relatives who may be candidates for genetic testing
  • Support the patient as they make informed decisions regarding cancer risk reduction options, surveillance, and treatment
  • Discuss insurance coverage, cost of testing, privacy, and legal protections against genetic discrimination

If you decide to pursue genetic testing, a blood or saliva sample is collected during your initial consultation. Results are typically available within 1-4 weeks, depending on the type of test ordered. A follow-up consultation is scheduled to review the results, discuss your medical management recommendations, and answer any questions that you may have.

Can I Afford Genetic Testing?

Genetic testing is typically covered by insurance companies. However, the genetic testing laboratories guarantee to contact the patient if their out of pocket cost is over $100. Most genetic testing is low (<$100) to no-cost (covered by insurance). A genetic counselor will work with you to find the most affordable genetic testing option.

Speak with your physician about a referral to a genetic counselor for a complete genetics assessment and for more information about genetic testing options. 

If you have any questions or would like to speak with a genetic counselor, please contact Ashley Cohen, MS, LCGC at 931-783-2476 or