Cancer Genetics Program

What Does the Term “Cancer Genetics” Mean?

For some families, cancer seems to be inherited or passed down from one generation to the next. There may be several relatives who have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer, perhaps at an early age. Their cancer may be a result of an inherited gene change or mutation.

The Cancer Genetics Program at Capital Health Cancer Center helps individuals and families understand their genetics and how it may affect them.

Who Can Benefit From Cancer Risk Assessment?

While anyone who is concerned about his or her family’s history of cancer can benefit from meeting with our genetic counseling team, cancer risk assessment is specifically recommended for those with any of the following:

  • A diagnosed cancer
  • A first-degree relative(s) (parents, sisters, brothers, children) diagnosed with cancer
  • Families with two or more relatives on the same side of the family (either the mother or father’s side) with the same or related cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancers, colorectal and uterine cancers
  • A family history of cancer and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent
  • A family member who had:
    • Cancer that occurred at an early age, (before the age of 50) such as breast, ovarian, endometrial, or colorectal cancer
    • Cancers in both breasts, ovaries, kidneys, or adrenal glands
    • The diagnosis of two different cancers at any time, such as breast and ovarian cancers, breast and colon cancers, or uterine and colon cancers
    • A rare cancer, such as male breast cancer, retinoblastoma, medullary thyroid cancer, or sarcoma
    • An inherited condition with which cancer occurs more frequently than it does when the condition is not present (such as multiple intestinal polyposis, neurofibromatosis, or Cowden’s disease)

How Our Cancer Genetics Team Can Help You?

A cancer risk assessment provides information about how heredity and environmental factors may cause cancer in a family or an individual. At Capital Health, your cancer risk consultation will be with a certified genetic counselor who can provide accurate information about your cancer risk, cancer screening, and genetic testing. This information can relieve anxiety and provide a sense of control.

    • An explanation of how cancer develops and how it is inherited
    • A thorough review of your family history
    • An assessment of your risk to develop cancer
    • An estimation of the likelihood that there is a detectable cancer gene in your family
    • A discussion of the risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
    • A discussion of the genetic testing options
    • Recommendations for cancer screening
    • A comprehensive summary letter