Our team of genetic specialists offers the most advanced testing procedures to detect inherited factors and gene mutations that increase your risk for developing certain types of cancers, including:
- Breast and ovarian cancers
- Colorectal cancer
- Renal (kidney) cancer
- Endocrine cancer, including thyroid and pancreatic cancers
- Skin cancers, including melanoma
- Gynecological cancers
You may benefit from genetic counseling if:
- You have had cancer diagnosed at an early age (such as breast cancer before age 45 or colon cancer before age 50) or had a close family member diagnosed with cancer at an early age.
- You have two or more close family members diagnosed with the same cancer or related cancers (such as breast and ovarian or colon and uterine).
- You have had more than one cancer or a close family member with more than one cancer.
- Your family is known to have inherited cancer syndrome.
- You are of a certain ethnic group (such as Ashkenazi Jewish), and you or a close family member has had breast cancer.
- You have been diagnosed with a rare cancer (such as male breast cancer or medullary thyroid cancer).
While it’s important to understand if you have a family history of cancer, it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily have an increased risk of developing cancer. There are many other factors that influence cancer development.
The genetic counseling process
Step 1: Genetic counseling preliminary meeting
You will meet with one of our cancer genetic counselors, who will evaluate your personal and family health history, determine your risks for inherited cancer and help you decide whether testing will be useful. During this preliminary meeting, the genetic counselor will provide you with an individualized and detailed discussion of the option for genetic testing and recommendations for preventive screening and treatments.
Step 2: Genetic testing and diagnosis
Your genetic counselor will schedule a genetic test, which is normally a simple blood test. Genetic specialists will evaluate the test results and confirm the presence or absence of the gene mutations. Our genetics specialists use the most updated information in cancer genetics to offer testing for inherited factors that increase your risk for developing certain types of cancer. Genetic testing can identify hereditary gene mutations for many cancers and conditions linked to cancers. Among those tested are:
- Colorectal cancer genetic testing—The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that about 3 percent of colorectal cancer cases are due to an inherited condition known as Lynch syndrome. Genetic testing for the diagnosis of Lynch syndrome can determine if you have an increased risk for developing colorectal and uterine cancer.
- Breast cancer and ovarian cancer genetic diagnosis and testing—Cancer genetic testing can help men and women determine if they are at greater risk for developing breast cancer because of certain inherited gene mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women with these gene mutations have a higher risk of also developing ovarian cancer and other types of cancer during their lifetime.
- Genetic testing and diagnosis for conditions linked to renal (kidney) cancer—If any of your blood relatives have or had kidney cancer, especially at a younger age, or if you have been diagnosed with an inherited condition linked to this cancer, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, your doctor may suggest that you have genetic testing to see if you have those specific genetic mutations.
- Lynch syndrome genetic diagnosis and testing—Lynch syndrome (LS) is an inherited disorder that increases the risk of many types of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. People with LS also have an increased risk of cancers of the stomach, small intestine, gall bladder ducts, upper urinary tract, brain and skin. Women with the syndrome have a high risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer. LS genetic testing may be recommended by a physician, especially if a family member has been diagnosed with the disorder.
- Thyroid cancer genetic diagnosis and testing—Genetic testing is available for several genetic mutations associated with an increased risk of certain types of thyroid cancer. They are papillary and follicular thyroid cancer (90 percent of thyroid cancers are this type), medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) and familial medullary thyroid cancer (FMTC).
- Skin cancer genetic diagnosis and testing—Genetic testing for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, looks for mutations on the CDKN2A gene. Having a mutation in this gene dramatically increases a person's lifetime risk of developing melanoma. Since mutations in the CDKN2A gene are very rare, dermatologists typically recommend genetic testing only in patients who also have other select risk factors.
Step 3: Genetic counseling follow-up meeting
After genetic testing is completed, you will meet again with your genetic counselor to talk about the test results and their implications.