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Genetic Testing
  Who Should Order Your Genetic Test?

By Amanda Ewart Toland, PhD

Reviewed by Miriam Komaromy, MD



You and your doctor have thought about genetic testing and it seems like the right decision for you. Who is the best person to order your genetic test? Your primary doctor? A specialist? A geneticist?

In principle, any licensed physician can order genetic tests. However, many doctors are not familiar with the interpretation of genetic test results or when a particular test may be appropriate. It is important to have your genetic test ordered by a doctor familiar with:

 

  • Your genetic disorder
  • The appropriate genetic test for that disorder in the context of your own and your family's medical history
  • The interpretation of genetic results for your disorder
  • Medical interventions that are appropriate for different testing outcomes.

In some cases, the care provider best suited for ordering your genetic test will not be your primary doctor but a:

  • Geneticist
  • Doctor working with a genetic counselor
  • Specialist, such as an oncologist or cardiologist, familiar with the genetic aspects of your disorder.

How do you determine if your care provider has sufficient experience with genetic testing? Below are a list of questions you can ask your doctor to determine if they may be the right person to order your genetic test.

  • How does your doctor feel about keeping your genetic test results "off the record?"
  • Has your doctor seen patients with the inherited form of your disorder?
  • Has your doctor offered genetic testing for other patients with this genetic disorder or with similar genetic disorders?
  • Before testing, will your doctor sit down and go over the pros and cons of testing and the implications of different test results?
  • Before testing, will your doctor discuss medical management options for you if the results are positive? Negative? Indeterminate?
  • If your doctor has previously offered testing for other individuals with the same disorder, what medical options were offered to them for follow-up care? Surveillance? Additional lab tests? Referrals to specialists? Does your doctor feel comfortable doing this for you if you test positive?
  • Is your provider familiar with support groups or other resources for individuals at risk for/or testing positive for this disorder?

These questions are not comprehensive. However, they are designed to give you a feel for what your doctor may be able to offer, as well as the genetic testing experience your provider may have. If you feel comfortable with your doctor's responses, then your doctor is likely the right person to order your genetic test.

 

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