Genetic Counselling


What is genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling helps you understand how genetic conditions can affect you and your family. It provides the support you need to make informed decisions about how to manage your health and the health of your children.

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Who can benefit from genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling can benefit to individuals, couples and families who have genetic concerns, including questions about the risk of inheriting, developing or transmitting a genetic condition.

A family history of cancer

Genetic counseling for cancer aims to identify individuals and families with an inherited susceptibility to cancer in order to promote risk assessment and awareness, early detection and prevention of cancer.

In general, genetic testing for a hereditary cancer syndrome should be considered if:

There are multiple family members with cancer
Cancer occurs on the same side of the family
The cancer is diagnosed when the person is younger than expected (less than 50 years old)
The person receives multiple cancer diagnoses
Several generations are affected
Certain types of cancers occur on the same side of the family
(breast, thyroid, colon, pancreatic, prostate, bone or soft tissue cancer, sarcoma or leukemia/lymphoma)

To learn more about hereditary breast cancer specifically, click here

A family history of hereditary diseases

Most diseases – cancer, heart disease (hypertrophy, arrhythmia, etc.) and neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.) – have a genetic component and are not necessarily hereditary, but some have a higher genetic risk than others.

A genetic counsellor can review your family history to provide a risk assessment and help determine if a genetic test may be appropriate for you or a family member.

The risk of being a carrier of a genetic condition or of having a child with an inherited condition

Experts estimate that each one of us is a carrier for at least 5 genetic conditions. Someone who is a “carrier” usually has no symptoms and often has no family history of the disease.

Most often, it is a genetic condition that follows an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. When both parents carry the same genetic disease, each of their children has a risk of inheriting two mutated genes (one from the father and one from the mother) and will therefore develop the disorder. Examples of autosomal recessive disorders include: cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs disease and familial Mediterranean fever.

There is another type of inheritance, called X-linked, in which women are carriers, usually without symptoms, and their sons are at risk of developing the disorder. Examples of X-linked disorders include: fragile-X syndrome, hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Examples of genetic conditions that are more common in particular ethnic groups

French-Canadians ancestry from the Charlevoix and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions

  • Lactic acidosis
  • Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy
  • Tyrosinemia

Ashkenazi Jews

  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Canavan disease
  • Familial dysautonomia
  • Bloom’s syndrome
  • Fanconi anemia
  • Mucolipidosis Type IV
  • Niemann-Pick disease


  • Sickle cell anemia

People of Mediterranean or Asian origin

  • Thalassemia

How can a genetic consultation help you?

Your first genetic counselling session costs $195.

Understand your family history and evaluate your risks
Understand the potential medical implications of a genetic condition
Learn about available genetic testing
Decide whether to undergo genetic testing
Discuss and understand the result of genetic testing
Learn about your health management options based on the genetic testing results
Identify additional information and support resources
Discuss potential insurance-related genetic discrimination concerns
What services does a genetic counsellor provide?

Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with specialized training in medical genetics and counselling. They provide personalized support to help you understand your genetic information, the potential risks for you and your family, and your testing and health management options. Their counselling training enables them to offer emotional support with making potentially difficult decisions. They can also put you in touch with the services and resources available in your area.

Learn more >

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