Most cancers happen by chance and are not passed down from generation to generation. However, in a small number of families, cancers may be due to specific genetic factors. Identifying these genetic traits can be beneficial in terms of assessing the risk of an individual developing cancer and providing appropriate medical options to prevent cancer or reduce the risk as much as possible.
A certified genetic counselor performs cancer risk assessments of her patients, evaluating their potential for carrying a hereditary cancer syndrome by researching their family and personal histories. The counselor also oversees genetic tests to look for the defective genes and counsels patients through the decision-making process of what to do with the information.
Early detection is one of the best weapons against cancer. One in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. The cancer risk assessment program at Goldschmidt Cancer Center is designed to help individuals and their families understand their risk for cancer and take steps toward early detection and prevention of their risks. Regular screenings can help identify many cancers in their earliest stages when they can be treated successfully and often cured.
Medical research suggests 5 to 10 percent of cancers stem from a hereditary cancer syndrome—an abnormal gene that increases a person's risk for cancer. While that may sound small, it equals approximately 76,500 to 153,000 new cancers each year in the United States.
Most insurances plans cover the cost of genetic counseling and genetic testing (if medically indicated), including Medicare and Medicaid. There are both federal and state laws that make discrimination based on a genetic mutation illegal. Health insurance cannot consider a gene mutation a pre-existing condition.
Goldschmidt Cancer Center offers hereditary risk assessment and genetic testing for cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, as well as other cancers/tumors.
Cancer risk assessments and education consultations take approximately one hour to complete. The process includes a:
- Comprehensive family history review.
- Family history risk factors.
- Role of genetics in cancer.
- Evaluation of cancer risk.
If you have a family history of cancer or would like to learn more about genetic testing, please call 573.632.4800.