Genetic Counseling for Cancer

Some kinds of cancers run in families and genetic counseling can determine what diseases may be inherited or increase your risk for hereditary cancer.

As a member of your healthcare team, the genetic counselor will

  • Review your family medical history and assess your risk for hereditary cancers.
  • Explain the risk of hereditary cancers and the chance of finding a mutation through genetic testing.
  • Discuss the benefits and limitations of genetic testing.
  • Interpret genetic test results and explain what they mean for you.
  • Review and discuss the medical management options available to you.
  • Help you make an informed decision about genetic testing and follow-up care.
Genetic counseling and testing may be considered when the following factors are present:

  • Personal and/or family medical history indicates a genetic predisposition to cancer.
  • You or a family member has been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50.
  • A close relative has experienced more than one cancer, such as breast cancer involving both breasts or breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Multiple generations of a family have been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Known genetic mutation in the family (e.g. BRCA1 or BRCA2).

Genetic Counseling and Testing for BRCA

Genetic tests can check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.  Women who have inherited these gene mutations face a much higher risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

If you test positive for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, there are things you can do to decrease your risks.

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