By current estimates, at least 5 percent of all cancers are due to a specific inherited syndrome, and approximately 10 percent of cancers run in families. In many families, a pattern of cancer is obvious. In other families, a pattern may not be so easily seen due to a small family or an incomplete family history.
Moncrief Cancer Institute offers genetic counseling and risk assessment. Board-certified genetic counselors identify high-risk families and help them understand their risk of developing cancer as well as their options for prevention, early detection and treatment.
Characteristics of cancer that are inherited:
- A cancer occurring at an unusually young age compared with the usual presentation of that type of cancer
- Development of more than one type of cancer in an individual
- Family history of cancer of the same type in close relatives
- High rate of cancer within a family
- Related cancers in the same family (e.g., breast and ovarian; colon and endometrial)
One of the main reasons to seek genetic counseling is to determine if you or your family members are at an increased risk of cancer. If it is determined there is an increased risk of cancer, certain preventative measures may be undertaken to reduce your risk of actually developing the disease. Further, discovering that you or your family members do not have an increased risk of cancer can relieve anxiety and avoid unnecessary intensive monitoring strategies.
During a genetic risk assessment, a complete family history will be obtained. Key medical records are reviewed to document the history. The basis for how cancer can occur and be inherited will be discussed. A cancer risk analysis and calculation will be done. You will be informed about the advantages and limitations of the genetic testing. All of the information discussed will be documented in a letter that will be sent to you following the visit.
Genetic testing may also be done. It is possible to look for changes in genetic material or genes that are related to cancer. Since some of these changes or alterations can be inherited, it is possible to detect these changes in the blood of you or your family members who do not have cancer.
To schedule an appointment or to speak to a genetic counselor, call 214-645-2563.