Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is genetic testing performed?
A: Genetic testing is most commonly performed with a blood draw. For some individuals with a prior history of hematologic (blood) cancers, a blood sample may not be acceptable. Your genetic counselor will be able to help you determine if a blood draw is appropriate for you.
Q: Do I have to fast before having genetic testing?
A: No, you do not have to fast before having your blood drawn for genetic testing. Genetic testing looks for differences in your genes that were present at birth. Food and/or drink will not impact your results.
Q: Can my genetic testing be done the same day as my consultation?
A: Yes. If genetic testing is offered to you, your blood may be drawn at the time of your visit. Most patients have their blood drawn after meeting with the members of our genetics team. Upon scheduling your consultation, you will be scheduled for a blood draw in one of our phlebotomy labs. If testing is not recommended and/or you choose not to have your blood drawn at the time of your visit, your blood draw can be cancelled. If needed, you may have your blood drawn at a later date.
Q: Is genetic testing covered by my insurance?
A: Insurance coverage for genetic testing varies based on a number of factors, including an individual’s insurance company and specific insurance plan. Insurance companies have different policies, and may cover some tests, but not others. As with most healthcare provider appointments and tests, you may need to pay for some of the costs.
For patients undergoing reproductive genetic testing, you may check with your insurance company to verify coverage. In order to do this, you need to provide the procedure codes, or CPT codes, for the test(s). To obtain CPT codes for various reproductive genetic testing, click here. Additional testing may be discussed or recommended during your visit.
For patients undergoing cancer genetic testing, prices are often calculated based on insurance deductibles and copayments. Most genetic testing laboratories will verify insurance coverage prior to proceeding with testing to avoid an unexpected bill. This will be discussed further by your genetic counselor at the time of your appointment.
Q: Who will I be meeting with on the day of my visit?
A: On the day of your visit, you will be meeting with one of our genetic counselors. The genetic counselor will review your personal and family history, explain principles of reproductive and/or cancer genetics, and discuss any genetic testing that may be appropriate for you. You may also be meeting with one of our physician-geneticists who work closely with the genetic counselors to provide the best care for patients/families with genetic syndromes.
Q: What types of information will I be asked to provide?
A: For patients undergoing reproductive genetics consultation, you will be asked to provide information about previous pregnancies, possible exposures during pregnancy, and personal/family history of any of the following: recurrent pregnancy loss (greater than 3 miscarriages), genetic syndromes (Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, etc.), birth defects, and previous genetic testing. For more information, contact us at 312.472.4151.
For patients undergoing cancer genetics consultation, you will be asked to provide information about your personal and/or family history of cancer. This will include the types of cancers in you and your relatives, as well as approximate ages (rounded to the decade—ex: 60s) at which those cancers were diagnosed. If you and/or any relatives have completed genetic testing previously, you will be asked to provide copies of those results prior to your visit. Please see “Preparing for Your Appointment” on the Cancer Genetics page to learn more about the type of information that will be needed during your visit.
Q: Does my partner need to come with me to my reproductive genetics visit?
A: Your partner is welcome to accompany you to your visit, but this is not a strict requirement. If testing is recommended for both you and your partner, the timing and need for this will be discussed during your genetic counseling appointment. Your partner would be able to schedule a brief follow-up visit with us in the event that additional testing is needed for him/her. For additional questions about this, please contact us at 312.472.4151.
Q: Can I bring my family members to my cancer genetic counseling visit?
A: Yes, you may bring family members with you to your visit. If more than three family members will be accompanying you to your visit, please contact us at 312.695.0320 to verify that we have appropriate space designated for your group. If you are interested in scheduling a family consultation (testing for you and one or more relatives), please contact us at 312.695.0320 to schedule accordingly.
Q: How long will it take to receive my results?
A: Expected time until results varies based on the type of genetic testing ordered, as certain types of genetic testing may require more or less time to complete. You may discuss this further with your genetic counselor at the time of your consultation. For patients undergoing reproductive genetic testing, expected wait times are listed below. Please note that these are estimated timelines and not guaranteed.
- Carrier screening: approximately 2 weeks
- Cell-free DNA screening: approximately 7-10 days
- Sequential screening: Results of part I and part II are usually available about 1 week after blood draw
- Diagnostic testing (CVS or amniocentesis): approximately 10-14 days
Results of genetic testing for inherited cancer risk are usually available in 3-4 weeks. However, for testing that is intended to inform treatment decisions (e.g. surgery or medication changes), we can discuss expedite testing which can sometimes be returned in 1 ½ to 2 weeks.
Q: Will my genetic testing results be available on MyChart?
A: Unfortunately, we are not able to release genetic testing results through MyChart. However, you will receive a copy of your results once they become available. Your genetic counselor will discuss your preferred method of communication (direct mail, email). All results will be uploaded into your electronic medical record for your Northwestern Medicine healthcare providers to review in the future.