If you think you might have an inherited susceptibility to cancer, ask your health care provider if seeing a genetic counselor is right for you.
Prepare for your genetics visit
- Learn more about cancer genes and hereditary cancer by viewing these videos. En Español aquí.
- Talk to your relatives about your family’s cancer history, on both sides of the family
- Complete the Cancer Family History Questionnaire and bring it to your first visit:
- If any relative with a history of cancer has had genetic testing, please bring a copy of their results to your appointment, if possible.
Your genetic counselor will:
- Complete a detailed review of your medical records, health history and family history of cancer
- Help you understand your chance of developing cancer
- Discuss and offer genetic tests that might be right for you or your family members
- Order a genetic test, when appropriate, and discuss how you will get your results
- Help you decide what to do next
- Address your questions and concerns
If the genetics provider orders a genetic test for you this is usually done on a small sample of blood or body tissue. If one of your close relatives already had a genetic test for the same disorder it is very important to bring a copy of that lab report to your genetics visit. The time it takes to get results varies depending on the test. Your genetic provider will contact you with your results.
If the results of genetic testing confirm that you have a genetic predisposition to cancer, it’s important to remember that having a gene mutation does not mean you currently have cancer or will definitely develop cancer, only that you have a greater chance than most people. Some people with an inherited cancer predisposition never develop the disease.
There are many things you can do to reduce your chance of developing cancer such as having risk reducing surgery or having regular screenings to detect cancer early.
Your blood relatives (your children, siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, etc.) can also use the information to decide if they want to pursue genetic counseling and testing.