The Cancer Genetics Program at St. Mark's Hospital can help you understand your risk by providing genetic counseling and a personalized risk assessment. Through our program, you can expect to learn more about your risk for cancer, what options you have for genetic testing, and how to manage and/or reduce your risk.
The majority of cancer is sporadic and is not attributed to a familial risk. However, some cancers occur as a result of hereditary conditions passed on from generation to generation. Scientists have identified several genes that, when altered, can increase an individual's risk of developing a variety of cancers including cancer of the breast, ovaries, uterus, pancreas and colon. If you or your family has a significant history of cancer, you may be at risk for a hereditary cancer condition.
Some common features of hereditary cancer include:
- Early onsets of cancer, usually under the age of 50
- Multiple cancers in one individual, such as bilateral breast cancer
- Multiple cancers in a family in more than 1 generation
- Rare or unusual cancers, such as male breast cancer
Genetic Counseling Process
If your doctor thinks that you are at high risk for developing cancer, you can be referred to Informed DNA for a telephone consultation with a certified genetic counselor. A genetic counselor is a healthcare professional with specialized graduate degrees and experience in medical genetics and counseling. The counselor will work with you and your physician to:
- Help you decide if genetic testing is right for you
- Provide you with support and guidance throughout the testing experience
- Develop a plan tailored to your specific needs that may include recommendations for ongoing surveillance and preventative measures
What are the Benefits?
Examining your cancer risk through genetic counseling and testing could save your life – and possibly the lives of family members. The Cancer Genetics Program can help you:
- Feel assured in having a plan for surveillance and prevention if you are at risk
- Decide if you need to consider medical options to decrease your risks
- Avoid unnecessary interventions for family members who do not have inherited risk
- Understand the ultimate cause of cancer in yourself and/or family members
Breast Cancer Risk Assessment
As part of the Cancer Genetics Program, each and every patient getting any type of breast imaging procedure performed at St. Mark's Women's Diagnostic Center will also receive a complimentary screening risk assessment that will show if they are at high risk for developing breast cancer. If your results show that you are at risk, you may discuss this with your physician and a referral to Informed DNA can be arranged.
For More Information
If you feel that you might be at an increased risk for cancer based on your personal or family history, contact your health care provider to decide if genetic counseling might be appropriate for you.
Do you think you might be at an increased risk for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer?
You can visit www.breastcancergenescreen.org to find out if you might be good candidate for genetic counseling.