Sarah Beck, Genetic Counsellor at Check4Cancer, discusses what you can expect in a one-hour genetic counselling session

Sarah Beck, Genetic Counsellor at Check4Cancer, discusses what you can expect in a one-hour genetic counselling session

What happens at a genetics consultation?

During your genetics consultation, a Genetic Counsellor will assess your family medical history and advise you on the risks within your family, such as how likely it is that the cancers in your family have been caused by a faulty gene. The Genetic Counsellor will also discuss your own risks of developing cancer, or additional cancers in the future.

If you have already been diagnosed with cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, the Genetic Counsellor will discuss how your treatment may be altered depending on the results of the genetic test. 

Managing your cancer risk if you are healthy?

If you are healthy, the Genetic Counsellor will discuss possible ways of managing your cancer risks, such as increased screening or preventative measures.

What topics will be covered in the one-hour phone consultation with the Genetic Counsellor?

The following topics will be covered:

  • Your personal medical history
  • Your family health history
  • The likelihood of an inherited genetic predisposition to cancer in your family
  • If you have been diagnosed with cancer, how the genetic test results may alter your treatment
  • The benefits and limitations of genetic testing for you and your family
  • The implications of genetic testing and a strategy for genetic testing that best meets your needs

The Genetic Counsellor will also draw your family tree, including at least three generations. Genetic counselling is a two-way process. The better prepared you are, the more you will get out of it.

What information will you need to give to the Genetic Counsellor in the consultation?

Knowing the following information can help you prepare for your initial genetic assessment:

  • The approximate ages of your family members
  • Any conditions or cancers that your relatives have had
  • The age that they were diagnosed

Your family history will be very important in working out the chance of there being a genetic predisposition to cancer in your family, so it is a good idea to find out as much as you can about your family history. However, this information is not absolutely vital, and you should not avoid genetic counselling just because you do not know a lot about your family history.

The Genetic Counsellor will be very happy to answer any questions that you may have. Some people find that writing a list of questions prior to their appointment is helpful.

What to expect after the appointment?

The Genetic Counsellor will write you a letter, which will be a summary of your consultation. Unless you indicate otherwise, a copy of this report will go to you and to the doctor who referred you to GeneHealth/Check4Cancer, if you were referred.

Genetic testing

If you choose to go ahead with genetic testing, we will arrange for you to provide a blood sample.  You will then have a follow-up appointment when your results are available. 

You can book a one-hour genetic consultation here.


Sarah Beck | Registered Genetic Counsellor

Sarah Beck is a Registered Genetic Counsellor who has worked within the field of cancer genetics since 2001, working for GeneHealth at Check4Cancer since 2014.

Sarah graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with a BSc (Hons) in Genetics in 2000 and in 2003, was awarded an MSc in Genetic Counselling from Manchester University.  Sarah gained AGNC (Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors) professional registration in 2006 and HGSA (Human Genetics Society of Australasia) registration in 2009 whilst working as a Genetic Counsellor in Auckland, New Zealand for three years. 

Sarah has previously worked for the NHS Clinical Genetics Services in Oxford, Cambridge and Southampton and she also worked on the CAPP2 Lynch Syndrome cancer prevention study in Newcastle.  Sarah is a GCRB sign-off mentor and assessor for new Genetic Counsellors seeking GCRB registration.