Frequently Asked Questions - Medical Genetics

Where will the information about my family go?

The information you provide will be stored in your genetics chart in the Medical Genetics office or the Familial Oncology Program office. These offices are part of Kingston Health Sciences Centre and will be protected under provincial health privacy laws. For more information about privacy at KHSC, please click here

Who pays for genetic counselling and/or genetic testing?

This service is covered by your provincial health insurance. Any exceptions will be discussed ahead of time.

Do I have to have genetic testing?

The decision to have genetic testing is a very personal one. The genetic counsellor or medical geneticist will talk to you about the benefits and limitations of genetic testing and will help you decide whether or not testing is right for you and your family. Most genetic tests are done using a blood sample.

What do I need to do to prepare for a genetics appointment?

Before you go to your first appointment, try to gather information about your family history, medical history, pregnancy history, and genetic concerns. A genetic counsellor may contact you to get some of this information before your appointment. You may be sent a family history form to complete and return to us before your appointment. You may also be asked to bring photos of family members. All of this information helps us to be as prepared as possible for your appointment and allows more time for us to answer any questions you may have during your actual appointment.

For those people who are referred regarding a family history of cancer, you may be mailed release forms to have signed and returned. This allows us to get information about the cancer diagnoses in your family so we can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information during your appointment.

What should I expect at my appointment?

You will begin by meeting with a genetic counsellor or medical geneticist who will review your (or your child's) medical and family history. If it is needed, the medical geneticist will do a physical exam. Additional tests may also be recommended. If a condition is diagnosed they will review information about the condition, what it may mean for your family, and discuss plans for management and follow-up care.

How long will my appointment be?

Appointments usually last between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half. We ask that you arrive 10 minutes early to allow time for registration. We also suggest that you allow extra time to find a parking space as it can be difficult to find a place to park in the hospital’s vicinity. Click here for more information on parking or to find out how to get to the KHSC.

Who will I be meeting with?

You will meet with either a genetic counsellor or medical geneticist, or sometimes both. Genetic counselors are health care professionals with specialized training in counselling and genetics. Medical Geneticists are specialist doctors who have expert training and certification in genetics and inherited diseases.

What is genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling can help you learn how certain diseases, disabilities, or birth defects can affect you and the rest of your family. Your counsellor will provide you with information and support to help you make personal decisions about your health and the health of your children or pregnancies.