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About Genetic Counselors

Genetic Counselors are specialists who provide personalized help about your genetic health

Many things about you are partly or entirely determined by your DNA, and more specifically by tiny variations in sections of your DNA called genes, which you inherited from your parents. Your genes can also increase your risk of developing certain health conditions, including certain types of cancer or heart disease.

Genetics is the study of our genes and heredity. In the last 50 years, researchers have learned each of us has more than 20,000 genes and have identified many genetic mutations (sometimes called genetic variants) in them that are responsible for diseases. This led to the development of thousands of tests that – often using just a bit of blood or saliva – can determine if you are at risk for certain diseases or conditions.

As the study of genetics grew over the years, it became clear there was a need for professionals who understood genetics and could guide and support patients as they made decisions about genetic testing and their healthcare. In 1971, the profession of genetic counseling was born.

Genetic counselors are professionals who have specialized education to provide the personalized help you need as you make decisions about your genetic health. Today, there are more than 4,500 certified genetic counselors.

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