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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. All services are provided by a Licensed and Certified Genetic Counselor.
Heredity Cancer Risk Assessment
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 one generation
- Rare or unusual cancers, such as male breast cancer
Risk factors for possible hereditary cancer can include:
- Family member with a known genetic mutation
- Multiple family members with the same type of cancer
- An unusual clustering of cancers
- Triple negative breast cancer (ER–, PR–, HER2–pathology) before age 60
- Invasive serous ovarian* cancer diagnosed at any age
- Pancreatic cancer with breast or ovarian* cancer present on the same side of the family
- Breast and/or ovarian cancer in a family with Jewish ancestry
- 10 or more cumulative (lifetime) colon polyps in the same person
- Colorectal cancer at any age with high microsatellite instability (MSI) or IHC abnormal
- Rare or unusual tumors and/or physical findings, especially diagnosed at a young age
- Early-onset pancreatic, diffuse gastric, or renal cancer (diagnosed before age 50)
- Melanoma diagnosed before age 40 or in multiple members on the same side of the family
- Medullary thyroid or adrenocortical cancer diagnosed at any age
Who would benefit from Heredity Cancer Risk Assessment?
- Anyone with a personal and/or family history consistent with hereditary cancer susceptibility
- Member of a family with a known cancer susceptibility syndrome/gene mutation
- Individuals who have already undergone genetic testing through a physician and would like to discuss the test results
- Anyone with extreme cancer anxiety, even without heightened risk, or anyone inquiring about cancer risk in his or her children or extended family members
Signs of Hereditary Cancer/Referral Indications
Referrals can be made for any type of suspected hereditary cancer. The Genetic Counselor is available to answer questions regarding appropriateness of referral or complex family histories.
Genetic Counseling Process
If you are interested in learning more about your risk for cancer, or your doctor think you are at high risk, you can be referred to genetic counseling services for a consultation with a certified genetic counselor. A genetic counselor is a healthcare profession with a specialized degree and experience in medical genetics and counseling.
The counselor will work with you and your healthcare provider 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
Additional services include:
- Personal and family medical history evaluation
- Risk assessment using family history analysis and risk prediction models
- Genetic education and counseling
- Facilitation of genetic testing
- Genetic test result disclosure with interpretation and discussion of risk management recommendations
- Psychosocial support
- Facilitation of risk assessment and testing for family members
What are the benefits of Genetic Counseling?
Examining your cancer risk through genetic counseling and testing could save your life-and possibly the live of family members. The Cancer Genetics Program can help you:
- Make sense of your family history
- Feel assured in having a plan for screening and risk-reduction if you are at increased 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.
You can visit www.breastcancergenescreen.org to find out if you might be good candidate for genetic counseling.