Genetic Counseling for Cancer

If your family has suffered multiple cancer diagnoses, even those that are rare, we understand the concerns you may be harboring. Whether it’s breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or another form of  cancer, it’s normal to want to know what your family's risk factors are and how to prevent certain types of cancer in your lifetime.

Genetic testing is the best way to find the answers you seek. It also provides you the information you need to make empowered health decisions. At SSM Health we have genetic counselors available to work closely with you to assess your risk and provide recommendations on next steps.

What are Key Signs of Hereditary Cancer?

Hereditary cancer is the result of a genetic mutation that was passed down from a parent. About 5-10% of all cancers result directly from gene mutations inherited from a parent. Some cancers such as bowel cancer and breast cancer may have a stronger genetic link than others.

Certain signs that cancer in your family may be caused by a genetic factor, include having:

  • One or more individuals diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50
  • Several cancer diagnoses, across generations
  • An individual with a rare type of cancer, such as male breast cancer
  • An individual diagnosed with two or more different types of cancer
  • A relative known to have an inherited gene alteration that causes cancer
  • One of the above risk factors and Jewish ancestry

What to Expect When Meeting With a Genetic Counselor?

When you schedule an appointment with one of our trained genetic counselors, you will start to get the answers you’re looking for. Our genetic counselors will first assess your family’s medical history and determine if genetic testing is the logical next step.

If your counselor finds that you may benefit from testing, they will order a blood or saliva test to be sent to a genetic laboratory. The results of the test can take four to six weeks to receive.

Whether your results are positive or negative, the counselor will discuss how you can manage your cancer risk and options for screening and prevention. Some of the topics you will discuss with your counselor are:

  • How likely is it that cancer runs in your family?
  • Is genetic testing right for you?
  • Specific ways to lower your risk for cancer
  • Ways to detect cancer early
  • Discuss the benefits and limitations of genetic testing
  • Identify the cost of testing and insurance coverage

Your counselor will also share your test results with your referring doctor to ensure the needed follow-up care is received.

To schedule an appointment, find a genetic counselor near you. Sometimes a proactive approach, is the best approach.

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