Cancer & Genetics

Manage Hereditary Cancer Risks

Genetic counseling is available to anyone who has a personal or family history of cancer who wants to learn about their risks, genetic testing options and cancer screening and risk-reduction. Some cancers are hereditary which means genetic mutations or changes are passed from one blood relative to another. If you’ve inherited one of these genes, you have a higher risk of developing cancer at some point. After meeting with your genetic counselor, you may decide genetic testing is not right for you and that is okay. Your doctor can help you determine if genetic counseling may be helpful to you or you can contact Woman’s Genetic Center.

Your genetic counselor will begin by collecting your medical and family history. They will discuss how your family’s cancer history may be hereditary and what that means for you. After you have a detailed medical and family history, your genetic counselor will recommend if genetic testing is right for you. They will review which tests they recommend and why, as well as the ethical and legal factors of genetic testing.

Your test results and family/medical history will help determine which preventive measures are right for you. Your genetic counselor will discuss how often they recommend you undergo certain cancer screenings, if preventive surgeries could be right for you and other ways you can best prevent future cancers. You may also be referred to Woman’s High-Risk Clinic for additional monitoring and discussion.

Woman’s High-Risk Clinic

Woman’s High-Risk Clinic allows patients to learn their personal risk for developing breast cancer based on personal and family history. The average risk for women is 13% or 1 in 8. For some, breast cancer risk is increased due to controllable and non-controllable factors.

High-Risk Factors

  • A strong family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or non-cancerous breast diseases.
  • Obesity after menopause.
  • Taking hormones for more than five years (those with both estrogen and progesterone).
  • Genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Started a menstrual cycle before the age of 12 and started menopause after the age of 55.
  • Dense breasts reported on their mammogram report.
  • Previous treatment using radiation therapy.

What to Expect at Woman’s High-Risk Clinic

  • A physical exam
  • Assessment by entry of all personal risk factors into IBUS risk calculator
  • Risk reduction education resources from Woman’s Center for Wellness
  • If a person has a 20% or greater lifetime risk, they will meet with a breast surgeon and a personalized plan for screening will be made. Based on the lifetime risk score and guidelines, breast imaging may be recommended before age 40, as breast cancer risk increases with age.
  • Referral for Genetic Testing if qualifications are met.