It is well known that we inherit physical traits from our parents, but research has also shown that heredity can play a role in the development of cancer. It’s estimated that approximately 5-10% of all cancer is hereditary. Fortunately, we are now able to identify and help families that have a hereditary form of cancer.
Signs of a Hereditary Form of Cancer
- Cancer diagnosed at a young age (before the age of 50)
- Multiple close family members with the same type of cancer
- Families with certain clusters of cancers (example: colon and uterine cancer)
- Two or more cancer diagnoses in the same individuals (example: breast cancer in both breasts)
- Certain rare cancers or tumors (example: male breast cancer, ovarian cancer, adrenal tumors or multiple colon polyps)
There are many issues to consider before undergoing genetic testing. Therefore, individuals that have a personal or family history suggestive of a hereditary form of cancer may benefit from genetic counseling. Genetic counseling provides information to individuals in order for them to better understand their risk to develop cancer. During the genetic counseling session, the counselor will:
- Review and analyze the personal and family history
- Assess the risk for a hereditary form of cancer
- Describe the benefits, risks and limitations of genetic testing
- Interpret the genetic test result and explains what it means for the family
- Estimate the risk of developing cancer based on the personal history, family history and genetic test results
Genetic Counseling at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center
Before the initial appointment, it is helpful to know more information about a patient's medical history and their family history. Therefore, patients are sent a questionnaire to complete before an appointment is scheduled. By completing the questionnaire, it will provide us information about your family's history of cancer. It will also help us to learn and understand your health concerns. In order to schedule a genetic counseling appointment, please contact us at (321) 841- GENE (4363) or [email protected].
Genetic counseling typically requires up to two visits. During your initial appointment, a genetic counselor will: analyze your personal and family history, explain hereditary cancer syndromes, review the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing and discuss the most appropriate genetic testing options for your family. If genetic testing is appropriate and desired, the process of genetic testing and/or insurance pre-authorization can be started during the first appointment. The second visit involves disclosure of the results, an explanation of your family’s risk to develop cancer and a discussion of your medical management options.
Please be aware that the cost of genetic testing is not included with the consultation. It is the patient's and their insurance company's responsibility to cover the cost of genetic testing. During your initial appointment, the genetic counselor will help you in determining if the cost of genetic testing will be covered by your health insurance.
Genetic testing is clinically available for most hereditary forms of cancer and usually involves a blood draw. Testing is offered to at-risk individuals, but only after the benefits, risks and limitations of each test are carefully considered. Individuals who undergo testing and are found to have a positive test result are at an increased risk for developing cancer. However, it is important to note that a positive test result does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop cancer.
Genes Affect Families
Because genes are inherited from family members, genetic testing may also benefit other close members of your family. A genetic counselor can review your family tree and determine which other family members may be at risk of developing cancer. If you desire, the counselor can counsel them about the option of genetic testing, their risk of developing cancer and their medical management options.
Benefits of Genetic Testing
- Provide cancer risk estimates for affected and unaffected individuals
- Identify the cause of the cancer in the family
- Help family members make medical and lifestyle decisions
Limitations of Genetic Testing
- Not 100% accurate
- Cannot tell if or when an individual will develop cancer
- Costly, although an individual’s health insurance may cover the cost
- May not provide information for every individual
A federal law prohibits discrimination by health insurance companies and employers based on an individual’s genetic test result or family history. Health insurers may not use genetic information to set eligibility, premium or contribution amounts. Employers may not use genetic information to make decisions involving hiring, firing, job assignments and promotions.
Genetic Counseling at the Cancer Center is dedicated to providing hereditary cancer risk assessment and consultation services.
Phone: (321) 841-4363 (GENE)
Fax: (321) 843-6025
Email: [email protected]