The Genetics Program at the Health Sciences Centre offers:
- Assessment and diagnosis of genetic conditions
- Medical information about genetic conditions
- Discussion about the risks of developing and passing on a genetic condition
- Information regarding the management and prevention of genetic conditions
- Arranging genetic testing, as appropriate
What is genetic counselling?
Genetic counselling is a health care service which provides information to families and individuals who are affected by or at-risk for inherited and/or genetic conditions.
Health care providers:
If you are a health care provider and wish to make a referral for one of your patients, you can download the fillable referral form to your EMR or print the form and fax it to us at 807-684-5823.
Referrals can be made through your health care provider. Once a referral is received, a family history questionnaire will be mailed to you. Once we receive the completed form, you will be contacted by the program for an appointment. Instead of completing a hard copy of the form, you can also fill in the form below that applies to you and fax it to (807) 684-5823.
Who provides genetic services?
Geneticists, genetic counsellors and genetics nurses are part of a team of health care professionals who provide genetic services. Geneticists are medical doctors who have special training in the area of genetic conditions. A genetic counsellor has post graduate training in genetic counseling. A genetics nurse is a nurse with extra training in genetics. Together, they can provide information about genetic conditions and explain how they are passed from one generation to another.
Depending on the nature of the referral, patients will see either a genetic counsellor, genetics nurse or a geneticist. Appointments with a genetic counsellor or genetics nurse are available any time throughout the year. The geneticist holds genetics clinics four to five times per year. However, if a referral is urgent, patients can see a geneticist through telemedicine videoconference.
Is genetic counselling right for me?
Some reasons for a genetics referral include:
- Personal history of 3 or more miscarriages
- Maternal age of 40 years or older at time of delivery
- Exposure to potentially harmful medications, drugs, chemicals etc. during pregnancy
- Positive prenatal screen
- Ultrasound findings that might suggest a genetic condition
- Previous child with birth defect
- Previous child with chromosome abnormality or other genetic condition
- Specific ethnicity in which certain genetic conditions are more common
- Birth defect(s) or multiple congenital anomalies (cleft lip/palate, heart defects, spina bifida)
- Developmental delay or learning disabilities of unknown cause
- Sensory impairments (vision, hearing)
- Metabolic disorders (PKU, galactosemia)
- Known or suspected genetic disorders e.g. (Down syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy)
Family history and/or a personal history of a potentially genetic adult onset condition (e.g. Huntington Disease, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Hereditary Cardiomyopathy, Muscular Dystrophies).
Recent scientific advancements have prompted an increase in interest in the area of hereditary cancers such as breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. Familial cancers make up only 5-10% of all cancers. Other cancers may also have a genetic connection, and a referral to the Genetics Program may be helpful to understand the risk to you and your family members and also to look into possible testing options for family members.
The genetic counsellor, genetics nurse and visiting geneticist provide information and counselling to those at risk. In collaboration with the Regional Cancer Care Northwest, a consultation with an oncologist is also available as needed.
Genetic services and costs
Genetic services are offered free of charge to those who have a valid OHIP card and meet our referral guidelines.