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What to Expect From Our Genetic Counselors

What Is Genetic Counseling?

Our team will:

  • Evaluate and recognize family histories for hereditary cancer syndromes
  • Provide a cancer risk assessment for your family
  • Help you and your family make sense of complex information about:
    • Genetics and cancer
    • Costs, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
    • Issues of privacy, confidentiality, and genetic discrimination
  • Coordinate and interpret genetic testing
  • Review medical management and implications of genetic test results
  • Provide follow-up support and coordination of referrals 
We’re dedicated to making sure you have the information you need to make informed medical decisions in a supportive environment that affirms your individual cultural, religious, and ethical beliefs.

Is Genetic Counseling for You?

Most often, families with inherited cancer risk show signs that raise suspicion for a hereditary cancer syndrome. In some families, the pattern is clear and obvious. In others, however, incomplete information, small family size, or unknown diagnoses can make identification more challenging. 

There are some broad guidelines for identifying individuals and families at increased risk for hereditary cancer syndromes. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, genetic counseling may be useful for you.

  • Have you or a close family member had a cancer, such as breast or colon cancer, at an early age (under 50 years old)?
  • Do you have multiple family members with cancer in two or more generations?
  • Has any one person in your family had more than one type of cancer?
  • Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with bilateral (both sides) cancer of paired organs (such as breasts, ovaries, or kidneys)?
  • Are you related to someone who is known to have inherited a gene that can cause susceptibility to cancer (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2)?

Hereditary Cancers

Although most cancers are thought of as random events, approximately 10% are hereditary. These hereditary cancers are related to specific inherited factors or genes that cause an increase in susceptibility to develop certain cancers. Families can pass on a gene from generation to generation, which increases the risk of these cancers to develop at a young age.

Hereditary cancers can include but are not limited to:

  • Breast
  • Ovarian
  • Colorectal
  • Thyroid
  • Renal
  • Prostate
  • Skin (Melanoma)
  • Pancreas
If families at risk for inherited cancer can be identified, genetic testing may be able to help determine personalized surveillance, management, and surgical options in the hopes of preventing the cancers from occurring.

Access to Additional Resources

In addition to providing education and support services to families with genetic concerns, our genetic counselors are also involved in connecting patients and families with national and community-based informational resources, including research studies, support groups, and funding agencies.

Contact the Hereditary Cancer Assessment Clinic

A specially trained genetic counselor is available to meet with you and answer questions about your hereditary cancer concerns. For more information, please call (208) 381-2734.