It is well known that we inherit physical traits from our parents, but now research has shown that heredity can play a role in the development of cancer. It’s estimated that approximately 5-10% of all breast, colon and ovarian 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 or related 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 (male breast cancer; adrenal cancer; multiple colon polyps)
Genetic CounselingThere 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 can:
- Review the personal and family history
- Assess and explain 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
Genetic Counseling at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer CenterBefore the initial appointment, it is helpful to know more information about a patient's medical history and their family history. Below is the genetic risk assessment questionnaire. By completing this 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.
How to schedule a genetic counseling appointment:
- Keep a copy for your records
- Mail or fax a copy to our office (the mailing address and fax number are in the questionnaire)
- After we receive a copy of the questionnaire, we will review it and then contact you to schedule a genetic counseling appointment
Genetic counseling typically requires up to two visits. During your initial appointment, a genetic counselor will: review your personal and family history; explain hereditary cancer syndromes; review the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing; and discuss screening and management plans. If genetic testing is appropriate and desired, the process of genetic testing and/or insurance pre-authorization can be started. The second visit involves disclosure of the results and a discussion of your medical management.
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 TestingGenetic 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 FamiliesBecause genes are inherited from family members, testing may involve 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. The counselor can help you notify these individuals, if you desire, and counsel them about testing and cancer prevention.
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
- Can not 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
Privacy IssuesA 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.GENE (4363)