Patients and families

Obstetrics and General Genetics Services (OGGS)

OGGS can offer a range of counselling and support services to adults at risk of or affected by a genetic condition, including prior to and during pregnancy. You may be referred if you or your doctor if:

  • there is concern that you may be at risk of a genetic condition
  • there is a family history of a genetic disorder
  • you and/or your partner are carriers of a recessive condition and would like pre-conception counselling
  • there are features suggestive of certain cardiac conditions, joint hypermobility conditions and other conditions that may be associated with a gene fault

We offer a full range of clinical genetic services including counselling, support and education.

Familial Cancer Program (FCP)

Cancer is a common illness (affecting 1 in 3 people) in our community and most cancers occur as a normal part of ageing. A number of people in your family may have cancer but that does not always mean it is hereditary (runs in the family).

Genetic Services accept referrals for patients who are at increased risk of cancer. If you are concerned about your personal and/or family history of cancer contact your GP for a risk assessment.

You, and members of your family, may be at increased risk of cancer if you have:

  • relatives with cancer that were diagnosed at a young age (under 50 years old)
  • relatives with more than one primary cancer (not a recurrence of the same cancer)
  • several relatives on the same side of the family who develop related cancers
  • a relative with a genetic condition that increases his or her risk of cancer.

The Familial Cancer Program provides testing for inherited cancer predisposition conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1 & 2), familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polypotic colonic cancer (Lynch syndrome).

The familial cancer program can provide:

  • Information about inherited cancers
  • an assessment of your risk of developing an inherited cancer
  • advice as to whether genetic testing may be an option for you
  • recommendations for screening and minimising your risk
  • support and counselling for those who are identified as high-risk.

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General Paediatric Services (GPS)

Your child may be referred to us if you or your doctor is concerned about his or her growth, development or health. Our role is to assess your child to determine if a genetic condition may be the underlying cause of these concerns.

Reasons that your child may be referred include if he or she:

  • has a history of a congenital anomaly (birth defect)
  • is experiencing developmental delay
  • has unexplained differences in growth
  • is noticed to have facial differences
  • is identified as a carrier of cystic fibrosis through the newborn screening test

We also provide children and their families with information, support and educational resources.

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What happens once my doctor sends a referral to GSWA?

Once we receive your referral, a genetic counsellor will review the information included. Before we make you an appointment it is important that we gather all the necessary details about your family history to enable us to make an accurate assessment.

A genetic counsellor may phone you to ask these questions (please note this will be from a private number) but we may also send you paperwork in the mail to complete. This may include a family history questionnaire or consent forms to be signed by your family members. All information provided before, during, or after your appointment is treated confidentially.

Once we have enough information to decide how we can best assist you, we will contact you to discuss the next steps.

What is genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling is the provision of information and support regarding genetic disorders, birth defects, health concerns or test results relating to the individual or their family. This may involve the diagnosis of a genetic condition and supportive counselling to assist decision-making and the adjustment process that occurs when a condition is new to a family or individual. Genetic counselling may occur via telephone or by appointment at a genetic clinic.

Genetic counselling is provided by a team of health professionals including genetic counsellors and clinical geneticists:

  • Genetic counsellors are usually graduate health professionals with specialist training in genetics and counselling. They undergo a training process certified by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA).
  • Clinical geneticists are medical practitioners with a genetics specialty, also certified by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) and the College of Physicians of Australia, to provide clinical genetics services.
What to expect at my appointment?

This is an opportunity for you to talk about any concerns you have. We will review your family health history. Sometimes we may need to gather more information and arrange further tests.

Every appointment is different but common services that we provide include:

  • education
  • an opportunity to ask questions
  • an assessment of risk of developing a condition or health conditions as a result
  • advice as to whether genetic testing may be an option
  • recommendations for screening and minimising your risk
  • support and counselling for those who are identified as at risk or diagnosed with a genetic condition

Appointments may take up to 1 hour and you may need more than one appointment. You are also welcome to bring a family member or another support person to your appointment.

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing can be used to assess your chance of developing or passing on a genetic condition, or confirm/rule out a suspected genetic condition. Testing is only possible in some families and must start with a relative who might be affected. It is not always possible to detect a gene fault in the family.

If a gene fault is found, testing can be offered to other family members to help assess their risk of developing the condition.

Genetic counselling is required before and after testing and is an opportunity for you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Genetic testing involves a blood test to analyse your DNA. No other invasive procedures are required.

Languages other than English

Interpreters can be made available for your appointment. If English is not your first language and you require an interpreter, please let us know prior to your first appointment.

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