If a relative has been diagnosed with cancer at a young age, or you have multiple family members with cancer, you may want to complete a risk assessment or ask your doctor whether you might be eligible for genetic testing. Genetic testing can help you better understand your risk of developing a similar cancer.

About the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program

At the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, our Cancer Risk Evaluation Program helps patients and their families understand their inherited risk for cancer, and the steps they can take to mitigate that risk. Our licensed, certified genetic counselors follow the latest evidence-based guidelines, and collaborate with other members of the cancer team to provide recommendations for follow-up care.

Patients under treatment for cancer may be referred to us through their surgeon or oncologist. Others are referred by a primary care doctor who identifies a risk. Patients may also self-refer. In all cases, we begin by gathering a family and personal health history. Once that is completed, we schedule the patient for an appointment with one of our genetic counselors, who will provide education, support and valuable resources.

The program:

  • Reviews your family history, medical history, and lifestyle risk factors
  • Explains genetic testing to help with your decision-making if this option is recommended
  • Provides a written summary of your level of risk
  • Outlines a plan for continued monitoring to help protect your health
  • Evaluates your eligibility to participate in research studies

The program also provides information for those individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer and want to know about the role of genetics in their diagnosis.

Risk Evaluation Offered for the Following Inherited or Familial Cancers:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Hereditary colon cancer
  • Polyposis cancer

About Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is offered to people with a personal or strong family history of specific cancers, to help determine whether they were born with a gene mutation that places them at a higher risk of developing cancer. For people who are eligible, genetic testing involves blood tests performed by a commercial laboratory.

Genetic counseling and testing benefits both the patient and family members, such as children or siblings. Individuals with hereditary genetic mutations linked with one type of cancer may also have a higher risk for other types.

Cancer risk evaluation and genetic testing provides options, enabling individuals to take proactive steps such as starting screenings at an earlier age, or increasing the frequency of testing, so problems can be caught early. The information gained by genetic testing may also influence a patient’s decision making when it comes to treating their cancer.

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