CBCC understands that in many cases, cancer is a genetic disease. It is caused by certain changes to your genes that alter the way your cells function, grow and divide. Because of this, family history is extremely important in assessing your risk of developing cancer. Inherited genetic mutations may play a role in as much as 10 percent of all cancer cases. Genetic tests for hereditary cancer syndromes can identify these mutations early to increase your chances of survival.
If you have questions about your risk for developing an inherited disorder or are worried about passing one along to your children, genetic counseling can address these concerns.
Genetic counseling starts with a meeting to review your medical history and your family’s health history to discuss potential risk factors. You may be referred for genetic testing, or if testing has already been completed, learn about your results and options. If you have concerns about the possibility of genetic issues, discuss them with your physician who will determine if you should be referred for genetic counseling.
Genetic testing looks for variations within specific genes that may indicate an increased risk of developing a disease or passing on an inherited disorder to your children. For example, a BRCA gene test can check for variants in genes that increase a woman’s risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
Genetic testing only requires a basic blood sample. Analysis of the sample may determine your likelihood of developing a certain type of cancer, whether a gene mutation contributed to an existing cancer diagnosis, or whether you’re at an increased risk of having cancer recurrence.
The goals of genetic testing are to: