Mother, Daughter and Child's Daughter

Women and Newborn Health Service

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King Edward Memorial Hospital

Genetic Services of Western Australia

Publications and Resources

Genetic Services of Western Australia (GSWA) is the sole provider of clinical genetic services in Western Australia.

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Locations Serviced

GSWA provides a state-wide service from King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children through:

  • a network of clinics in metropolitan Perth
  • a network of outreach clinics in country areas (Bunbury, Albany, Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie and Geraldton)
  • telemedicine and telephone counselling where appropriate
  • consultation in hospital wards, neonatal nurseries, outpatients, and after hours on-call cover

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This multi-disciplinary service offers the full range of diagnostic, educational and training programs relevant to the modern practice of medical genetics. Services are provided by clinical geneticists and counsellors working closely with DNA and cytogenetic laboratories and associated disciplines, such as diagnostic imaging and obstetrics. The protocols and procedures accord with the Human Genetic Society of Australasia Guidelines for Clinical Genetic Services. The department is supported by two comprehensive in-house databases, one being dedicated to the Familial Cancer Registry.

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Collaborative Services

Services are also provided by GSWA in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • predictive testing for Huntington disease with the Neurosciences Unit
  • prenatal diagnostic services with KEMH
  • diagnosis, counselling and family assessment of children with intellectual disability with the Disability Services Commission

The department also has significant working relationships with the following departments and institutes:

  • Department of Health Genomics Directorate
  • Cytogenetics Laboratory at KEMH
  • Department of Pathology KEMH
  • Department of Clinical Chemistry PMH (Newborn Screening Program, Maternal Serum Screening Program)
  • Fertility Clinics
  • Cancer Foundation of WA
  • Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Unit PMH
  • Birth Defects Register
  • Fetal Medicine Service
  • Diagnostic Imaging (KEMH)
  • Institute for Child Health Research
  • University of WA
  • School of Paediatrics and Child Health

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How do you Make an Appointment with Genetic Services?

Your General Practitioner or specialist can refer you to Genetic Services. They will send us a referral letter and you will be contacted by a genetic counsellor, either by phone or letter, to obtain any additional information that might be required and arrange an appointment. There is no charge associated with the appointment.

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Referrals to the Familial Cancer Program

Most cancers occur by chance and are not caused by an inherited predisposition.  With our current resources, we are unable to offer appointments to people who are not at an increased risk of cancer. Less than 1% of people are at a potentially high risk of cancer due to an hereditary predisposition.

If you are concerned about your personal and/or family history of cancer contact your GP for a risk assessment.  GP’s can make a referral to our service if the family are considered at high risk.  Referral guidelines for GPs and specialists are available online.  The following resources and risk assessment tools are also available online.  Risk management and surveillance guidelines should be discussed with an experienced medical professional.

Referral Guidelines

Risk assessment and management

Other Resources

Please print off a copy of our Familial Cancer Program Referral Form complete it and fax it back to 9340 1725.

If you have trouble completing the form, or if you need further information, please call to speak with the duty genetic counsellor on 9340 1603. We will need information about:

  • the numbers of relatives that have cancer
  • the type of cancer they had
  • the ages at which they were diagnosed
  • whether any other family members have already had genetic testing

We will use this information to determine how urgently you need to be seen and by whom. You then will receive an appointment or a call from a genetic counsellor. There is no charge associated with this service.

Familial Cancer Program

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Referrals to the Familial Cancer Registry

Clients may be referred to the registry:

  • by their GP or specialist
  • from the Familial Cancer Unit geneticist or counsellor
  • from other family members who are Registry clients, self-referral when there is a strong family history

Family History Indicators Include:

  • three or more family members on the same side of the family with the same or related cancer
  • at least two successive generations affected
  • diagnosis at a young age - under 50 for colorectal and ovarian cancer, under 40 for breast cancer
  • when another family member has had a positive gene mutation result
  • where there is no positive gene result but the family history is highly suggestive of a mutation
  • where history is not known, family risk is assessed on an individual basis

Familial Cancer Registry

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Genetic Counselling

Genetic counselling is the provision of information and support regarding genetic disorders, birth defects, health concerns or test results relating to the individual or their family. This may involve the diagnosis of a genetic condition and supportive counselling to assist decision making and the adjustment process that occurs when a condition is new to a family or individual. Genetic counselling may occur via telephone counselling or by appointment where the family or individual is reviewed at a genetic clinic.

Genetic counselling is provided by a team of health professionals:

  • Genetic counsellors are usually graduate health professionals with specialist training in genetics and counselling. They undergo a training process certified by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) to provide genetic counselling in conjunction with a clinical geneticist.

  • The clinical geneticist is a medical practitioner with a genetics specialty, also certified by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) and the College of Physicians of Australia, to provide clinical genetics services.

  • Additional services such as prenatal diagnosis, carrier detection, predictive testing and newborn screening services are often important components of the genetic counselling process and provide valuable information to the individual, family and health professionals.

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