We live in a time of growing knowledge regarding the role of genes in our health. New information about genetics is helping health care providers and their patients plan and manage lifelong care and prevention.
What is a cancer genetic risk assessment?
During a cancer genetic risk assessment, you will meet with a certified genetic counselor who specializes in cancer genetics. The genetic counselor will review your complete family medical history and discuss the role genes play in causing cancer. From the assessment, you will learn your approximate risk of developing cancer during your lifetime, as well as the chance that any cancer in your family might be passed on through genes.
In some cases, genetic testing may be recommended to determine your genetic risks for cancer. You will receive guidance on ways you can lower your risk of developing cancer as well as cancer screening recommendations designed to detect cancer early, when it is most treatable.
What can you do with genetic information?
There are many ways you may benefit from genetic information:
- It can help you understand the cause of cancer in your family and determine your family members’ risk of cancer.
- Your doctor may use it to guide cancer prevention and screening recommendations, use of medication or surgery.
- In some cases, it can help determine the best course of treatment for a recent cancer diagnosis.
- You may be relieved to learn that your cancer risk is lower than you expected.
Cancer genetic counseling. Is it right for you?
You may consider genetic counseling if:
- You have already had cancer, and you are concerned about the risk of additional cancer for yourself and other family members.
- A close family member or several family members have had cancer and you want to determine if you are at risk for developing cancer.
- Your family is known to have an inherited cancer syndrome.
- You want to know more about the roles of genes in cancer or are considering genetic testing.
- You are considering options, such as a breast MRI, tamoxifen or a hysterectomy, due to your family history.
Whatever your concern or type of cancer, our team will work with you to determine the significance of your genetic information.
Confidentiality and genetic testing
Some individuals may have questions or concerns regarding genetic information and privacy. Rest assured that any information obtained through your visit with our specialists will be kept confidential, as any medical record would. There are special legal protections for genetic information.
Your genetic counselor is a valuable resource of information about confidentiality and the specifics of current state and federal legislation regarding genetic privacy protection.