Genecist gripping a clinical genetics tool

Clinical Genetics

Genetics is one of the most exciting frontiers in medicine, and Northwestern Medicine makes it available to you. Our board-certified geneticists and licensed genetic counselors offer comprehensive services, including evaluation, counseling and health management.

What Is Clinical Genetics?

The board-certified geneticists and licensed genetics counselors at Northwestern Medicine offer comprehensive genetic services, including evaluation, counseling and health management related to cancer, cardiology, neurology, adult and pediatric conditions, as well as preconception planning and pregnancy-related issues.

Human genome research has lead to a wealth of information. Northwestern Medicine is translating this new information into the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your health, as well as about current and future pregnancies.

Because of medical advances, early detection of disease often allows for more options for treatment and/or intervention. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your possible inherited risks as early as possible.

The highly trained, compassionate physician-geneticists* and genetics counselors at Northwestern Medicine specialize in providing the most current genetic counseling and testing. We provide the highest level of care to our patients in the areas of reproductive and cancer genetics.

Understanding genetic counseling

Genetic counseling is the process of assessing your risk factors for genetic conditions, providing information to help you learn about the causes of an inherited disorder and offering support to help you handle the results.

Genetic counseling helps you understand:

  • What to expect throughout your life if you are diagnosed with a genetic condition
  • How a genetic condition is passed along in your family
  • How that condition may be prevented, treated or managed
  • Organizations and groups that offer support for specific conditions

Managing results

Genetics counselors are master’s degree-trained healthcare providers who are experts in the field of genetics. Genetics counselors can help you understand your test results and support your emotional needs. A negative test result can relieve your anxiety about being a carrier and prevent unnecessary and expensive tests. A positive test result allows you to take certain precautions, including:

  • More frequent monitoring to catch any potential cancer at its earliest stages, when treatment is most likely to be successful
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as smoking cessation, reduced alcohol intake, regular exercise and a healthy diet
  • Planning pregnancies at a younger age to minimize risk
  • Participating in clinical trials and other treatment protocols, such as chemoprevention and surgery

Your Northwestern Medicine genetics counselor can clarify your options and help you make informed decisions about your health.

Areas of Care

The Division of Clinical Genetics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is comprised of highly trained, compassionate physician-geneticists and genetics counselors, who specialize in providing the most current genetic counseling and testing available.

Our Cancer Genetics program is a joint service between the Division of Hematology/Oncology and the Division of Clinical Genetics. The goal of our program, which is led by a multidisciplinary team of genetics counselors, medical oncologists and medical geneticists, is to prevent cancer; or, if cancer occurs, to detect it as early as possible by identifying individuals at increased risk.

We provide individualized cancer risk assessment and health management recommendations to individuals and families at increased risk for cancer due to their personal and/or family history of cancer.

The Section of Reproductive Genetics within the Division of Clinical Genetics provides genetic counseling, preconception screening, prenatal screening and prenatal diagnosis for a variety of birth defects and genetic disorders. Genetic counseling is also available for infertility and other problems with conception and pregnancy.

Legal Information
*

In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.