Medical Plaza South
Cancer patients often wonder what caused their disease, and are concerned that their relatives may be at an increased risk for getting cancer. Hereditary cancers occur due to an inherited change (mutation) in certain genes that normally protect the body from developing cancer.
Cancer genetics is the study of hereditary and familial cancer. Though most cancers occur by chance, cancer develops in some individuals due to a genetic predisposition that runs in their family.
There are many known genes that may predispose individuals to inherited forms of cancer. By identifying inherited cancer syndromes and at-risk individuals, their healthcare providers can implement targeted individualized lifestyle modifications, screening recommendations, and preventative treatment options to improve outcomes.
What is genetic counseling?
Genetic counseling is performed by a genetic counselor who is specifically trained in genetics and counseling and helps identify individuals who are at risk for having a gene mutation that may lead to a cancer diagnosis. This process integrates family and medical history interpretation with education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources, and research. The genetic counselor appointment is done via phone call.
What is genetic testing?
Genetic tests are laboratory tests performed on blood or saliva to detect genetic disorders.
By identifying inherited cancer risk through genetic testing, patients and their healthcare providers can create a care plan that considers and addresses their risk factors.
Various offsite laboratories are used for testing.
You may be at risk for an inherited mutation or hereditary cancer if you have:
- A blood relative who has tested positive for a mutation
Or if you or any family member has had:
- Pancreatic, ovarian, or male breast cancer at any age
- Breast, colorectal, or endometrial cancer at age 50 or younger
- Two separate cancer diagnoses
- Triple-negative breast cancer
- Prostate cancer at age 55 or younger or metastatic prostate cancer
- Eastern European Jewish ancestry and breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer at any age
Or more than one family member on the same side of the family with any of the following cancers:
What happens during genetic counseling for cancer risk?
- Medical and family history is reviewed
- Inherited cancer risk is identified
- Genetic information of cancer predisposition is shared
- Options for cancer screening and risk reduction is discussed
- Recommendation for genetic testing is made, if applicable
- Financial information is discussed
Genetic counselor services are an out-of-pocket expense for patients, but insurance may cover genetic testing. Additionally, all patients are eligible for patient assistance programs courtesy of the laboratory used for testing.
To learn more information about Regional West’s genetic services, contact the Cancer Treatment Center at 308-630-1348.