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Genetic counselling is a communication process aimed at sharing information regarding genetic contribution to a specific health condition. This helps individuals and their family members adapt to the medical, psychosocial and reproductive implications of a specific genetic condition. Cancer is a disease of aging that result from an accumulation of acquired faults in the genes that control our cell growth. We acquire these gene faults over decades, hence the risk of developing cancer increases with age. Cancer is a common condition affecting around 1 in 3 Australians during their lifetime.
A small number of these cancers are thought to be “hereditary”, caused by an inherited gene fault from the time we are conceived. These faults can lead to an increased risk for developing associated cancers. For example, an inherited fault in genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increases the risk for developing breast, prostate, ovarian and in some rare cases pancreatic cancers at a younger age. Although the risk of developing cancer is higher not everyone with a gene fault will develop cancer.
Genetic counselling can help to clarify whether an inherited gene fault is the cause of cancers that have occurred in a family. Genetic testing information may change a treatment plan or help in making surgical management decisions. It can also help at-risk family members to understand and adapt to the implications of such conditions.
Bhavya Vora, Associate Genetic Counsellor
(MHGSA) MSc (Hons) Genetic Counselling, MSc Medical Genetics
Bhavya is an associate genetic counsellor with years of experience in hereditary cancer genetics, which is his area of specialisation. He is a member of the Human Genetic Society of Australasia (HGSA) and also a committee member of the WA branch of the HGSA. He currently conducts regular clinics in public health at Genetic Services of Western Australia. He also coordinates genetic clinics in Bunbury, where he counsels individuals and families for non-cancer related genetic conditions as well. His bachelor’s degree in biotechnology and master’s degree in medical genetics provide him with an in-depth understanding of genetics and the associated testing methods. His second master’s degree in genetic counselling enables him to discuss medical and psychosocial aspects of genetic testing.
Bhavya’s experience working overseas in Scotland, India, New Zealand, and locally in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane has provided him with a sound understanding of multi-ethnic clientele needs. He is sensitive to, and respectful of, everyone’s religious and cultural views. His ability to speak English and many Indian dialects allows him to build a good rapport with his clients.
Bhavya uses analogies to explain the complex nature of genetics. This offers a comprehensive understanding of genetic testing process to his clients diagnosed with cancer and/or those with a family history. He creates a supportive environment working in partnership with his clients to help them make appropriate decisions regarding their options for genetic testing. There are various appointment options available for his clients, including a face to face, video call or a telephone session.
A genetic counsellor (GC) helps you to make informed decisions about your options for genetic testing, interpret test results and communicate the implications of these results, for you, your immediate and extended family members. Genetic counsellors work with you and your doctors to help make appropriate recommendations regarding your options for ongoing surveillance to manage an increased risk of cancer.
A genetic counsellor (GC) is a healthcare professional with education and training in medical genetics and counselling. The role of a GC is to interpret the cancer risk based on an individual’s personal or family history. They help making an informed decision about an individual’s options for genetic testing. GCs communicate the implications of genetic test results for individuals and their family members. They work with doctors to help make appropriate recommendations regarding options for ongoing surveillance and management.
Interpretation of your personal and family history of cancer, to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
Education on natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, genetic testing, management, prevention and support resources.
Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values.
Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the diagnoses cancer for you or an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder