Our genetic counselors can help you understand your risk to develop cancer and determine if there is an inherited cancer risk in your family. We are also happy to provide information about possible cancer screenings and risk reducing options for you and your family. If there is an increased genetic risk for you or your family, our genetic counselors are here to work with you and your doctors to assist in making medical management decisions

What is Genetic Counseling?

Genetic Counseling is the process of helping people understand how genetics can play a role in developing cancer. Certain families have hereditary cancer conditions that can be passed down through generations.

Predictive genetic testing is the type of testing used to look for inherited gene mutations that might put a person at higher risk of getting certain kinds of cancer. Sometimes after a person has been diagnosed with cancer, the doctor will do tests on a sample of cancer cells to look for certain gene changes. These tests can sometimes give information on a person’s prognosis and help tell whether certain types of treatment might be useful.

A genetic counselor is a healthcare provider specifically trained to evaluate your family history and determine if genetic testing would benefit you and your family. Genetic counseling and genetic testing may help discover the cause of your cancer or the cancer(s) in your family. Sometimes, it can also tell you if you have an increased risk for cancers that are not running in your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

WHO SHOULD SEE A GENETIC COUNSELOR?

Talking to a genetic counselor may be helpful if you or your family member has experienced any of the following:

  • Certain cancers diagnosed at a younger age (breast, colon, or uterine cancer diagnosed before age 50).
  • An individual with ovarian cancer at any age
  • An individual with a personal history of 10 or more colon polyps
  • The same kind or related cancers (breast and ovarian in one family; colon and uterine in one family) in two or more close relatives, especially if one person was diagnosed before age 50.
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry with a personal and/or family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or pancreas cancer.
  • A personal or family history of rare tumors (male breast cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, etc.)
  • Diagnosis of an advanced cancer (metastatic prostate cancer, metastatic breast cancer).

HOW IS GENETIC COUNSELING PERFORMED?

Genetic testing is performed using a blood sample and results are usually available within 2-3 weeks. If genetic testing is ordered, your genetic counselor will discuss your results with you personally and will help with any follow-up needed.

WHAT IF I ALREADY HAD THE BRCA1 AND BRCA2 TEST?

If you had genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes or any other specific condition in the past and received a negative or inconclusive result you may be a candidate for additional genetic testing for hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer. Please contact our genetic counselors for more information.

HOW CAN GENETIC COUNSELING HELP ME AND MY FAMILY?

Genetic counseling and genetic testing may help discover the cause of your cancer or the cancer(s) in your family. Sometimes, it can also tell you if you have an increased risk for cancers that are not running in your family.

HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR MY APPOINTMENT?

Researching your family history, including types of cancer and ages at diagnosis, will help your genetic counselor provide an accurate risk assessment. Sometimes, bringing a copy of your family member’s pathology report can also be helpful, particularly relating to colon polyps and kidney cancer.

HOW CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

For more information about our genetic counselors and our genetic counseling services, please visit westcancercenter.org or contact 901.683.0055 or email [email protected]. You may also visit NSGC.org to learn more about genetic counseling and how genetic counseling can benefit you and your family.

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Contact 901.683.0055 or email [email protected]

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