Genetic Counseling for Cancer

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Understanding Your Genetic Make-up Can Help Your Health

Most cancers manifest without a known cause, but some are hereditary. Genetic counseling helps hundreds of patients determine their risk for diseases that can be inherited, including colon, uterine, breast and ovarian cancer. Any family with a higher than expected number of cancer cases, regardless of the type, would benefit from having a formal “Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment” consultation. Long Beach Memorial and Saddleback Memorial in California are proud to offer genetic counseling. To help you decide if genetic testing is appropriate, a genetic counselor analyzes family cancer patterns and environmental influences.

Genetic Counseling prior to Starting a Family

Since a few childhood cancers can be hereditary, survivors of those types may want to think about genetic counseling before having children. This can help them understand the risks of passing the genetic defect onto their children and to explore ways to prevent that.

What is hereditary cancer and why is an assessment important?

Hereditary cancer is the development of cancer due to an inherited gene mutation (a change in a specific gene) that has been passed from parent to child upon conception. Providing a hereditary cancer risk assessment is essential to the precision of excellent cancer care, including breast care. Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessments are highly individualized. You will receive an accurate assessment of personal genetic risk and an individualized plan for cancer screening and prevention.

Who should consider genetic counseling?

A person with a "strong family history of cancer" (two or more relatives on the same side of the family with the same or related cancers, especially if the onset was at an early age).

  • A person who has had cancer at an early age or who has more than one type of cancer.
  • A person with a known inherited syndrome.
  • A person with a rare cancer, e.g. breast cancer in a male, or adrenal cancer.
  • A person who is very anxious based on their family history.
  • A person who wants to know more about the role of genes in cancer.

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed

  • Under age of 40 (age 55 if of Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage).
  • In two close relatives under the age of 50.
  • In an individual with bilateral breast cancer, the first cancer under the age of 50.
  • Breast cancer in a male, any age.
  • In any individual with breast and ovarian cancer.
  • In any individual with ovarian cancer in one close relative.
  • At any age and if you have a family history of bone or soft tissue cancer, sarcoma, brain cancer, leukemia or adrenocortical carcinoma.

Colon and Uterine Cancer Diagnosed

  • Under 40 years of age.
  • In two close relatives, under the age of 50.
  • In three close relatives at any age.
  • With colon cancer and uterine cancer in the same person or on the same side of the family.
  • With multiple colon polyps (or family history of) at any age.

Skin Cancer - Melanoma

  • Family history of melanoma in two or more close relatives.
  • Personal history of multiple melanomas, with or without a family history.
  • Patients with multiple unusual moles and a family history of melanoma or pancreatic cancer.

Conditions Diagnosed

Physicians Specialized in this Diagnostic by Medical Center