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Familial Cancer Center

Approximately 1 in 3 Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime. Recent developments in cancer research have increasingly recognized the importance of genetic factors in the development of this condition.
As many as 1 in 10 cancer cases may be inherited. An additional 20 percent of breast cancer and 30 percent of colon cancer cases are believed to be family clusters.

The Familial Cancer Center serves as a resource and information center for individuals and families with concerns about their genetic risk of cancer and for health care providers treating cancer patients.

Individuals who come to the Familial Cancer Clinic will meet with a genetic counselor who will assess the individual’s personal cancer risk. Genetic counselors are specially trained health care professional with skills in medical genetics and counseling.

A person’s cancer risk assessment is done by obtaining detailed personal and family health histories, reviewing medical records on family members affected with cancer and genetic testing when appropriate.

After one’s cancer risk has been assessed, personalized screening recommendations and prevention strategies are discussed. In addition, the counselor will discuss the cancer risk to family members and appropriate screening for these individuals.

Referral guidelines

Individuals should consider having a cancer genetics evaluation if their personal or family history reveals:

  • Cancer occurring at an early age (<50 years)
  • Several family members have had the same or related types of cancer (for example, breast and ovarian)
  • Cancer occurred in both members of a paired organ (for example, both breasts)
  • Rare cancers (for example, male breast cancer or sarcomas)
  • There is more than one cancer/tumor in the same organ (multifocal cancer)
  • Multiple cancers in the same family member
  • A family member with a known cancer syndrome (such as BRCA or Lynch syndromes).

A cancer genetics evaluation:

  • Educates individuals about cancer genetics and personal risk factor
  • Assesses an individual’s risk for cancer and the risk to their family members
  • Addresses psychological concerns about cancer risk
  • Provide personalized screening and health promotion recommendations and cancer prevention strategies
  • Provides information that can aid in clinical management decisions
  • Discusses the benefits and limitations of genetic testing when appropriate
  • Provides information on community resources and support groups

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