Genetic Counseling, Centers in Switzerland
What is genetic counseling?
The purpose of genetic counseling is to help people understand the genetic contribution to disease. The identification of hereditary risk of developing a medical condition may allow for preventive measures where possible.
Predispositions to certain cancers can run in families. This may manifest as an accumulation of certain cancer types. One example is the combination of breast and ovarian cancer within one family. The predisposition to these diseases is caused by an error in the DNA (mutation) and can be transmitted to the individual’s children.
How genetic counseling and testing are done
The likelihood of a genetic predisposition to cancer in an individual can be estimated based on the personal and family history of cancer and specific characteristics (i.e., which types of cancer occurred at what age). Depending on the level of this risk, and in accordance with the individual being counselled, a genetic test may be proposed. In order to avoid billing problems, an application can be made to the health insurance provider to approve the cost of genetic analysis prior to testing. It can take several weeks for the application to be processed by the health insurer and the testing to be completed.
The test itself involves no more than a blood sample. However, it must always be accompanied by explanation of the implications for the individual being tested and their family. In the counseling session, the results of the test and the possible consequences are discussed.
Counseling centers in Switzerland
Swiss law contains specific provisions on genetic testing in humans (Federal Act on Human Genetic Testing HGTA).
Genetic testing may only be carried out if comprehensive counseling has been provided beforehand by a specially qualified doctor and the person has given their informed consent. Counseling of this kind may only be provided by doctors who have a qualification in medical genetics (Swiss Society of Medical Genetics, SGMG) or are members of the Network for Cancer Predisposition Testing and Counseling, CPTC of the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK).
Medical genetics specialists (SGMG) provide counseling on all hereditary diseases, while the members of the SAKK CPTC network counsel patients and families with hereditary predisposition to cancer.
The list of members in the CPTC network is shown at the bottom of this page.
If you would like to receive genetic counseling, you can ask your doctor (preferably your family doctor or gynecologist) to refer you or you can contact a counseling center directly.
You can find here the contact information of the SAKK network's centres that deliver genetic counseling and evaluation for cancer predisposition testing according to the regulation of the Krankenpflege Leistungsverordnung (KVL) / Ordonnance sur les prestations de l’assurance des soins (OPAS) / Ordinanza sulle prestazioni (OPre) art. 12, let. f.