Cancer Genetic Counseling

Are You at High Risk of Developing Cancer?

Deborah Wham, genetic counselor

The Cancer Genetics Counseling Program can help you learn if you are at high risk of developing cancer. To learn more, call 877-647-2502.

We provide:

  • Confidential hereditary cancer risk assessment
  • Access to ongoing local and national cancer research studies
  • Education for patients, health care professionals and the community
  • Genetic testing and DNA banking, when appropriate

While all cancer involves changes in the genes of cell, not all cancer is hereditary. In recent years, a number of genes related to inherited predisposition to cancer have been identified. In fact, it’s estimated that between 5−10 percent of all cancers are due to an inherited gene mutation.

Individuals who carry a mutation (alteration) in a cancer susceptibility gene have a significantly increased lifetime risk to develop cancer compared to the general population's risk. By taking into consideration personal and family medical histories, a physician can identify patients and their families who would benefit from meeting with a genetic counselor for a hereditary cancer risk assessment.

Genetic counseling for cancer risk assessment may be appropriate for anyone with:

  • Concern or anxiety about personal or family cancer risk
  • Any of the following on mother's or father's side of the family: early ages of diagnosis, more than one family member with the same cancer, individuals with bilateral cancers or more than one primary cancer, two or more generations of the family affected
  • Cancer diagnosed in an individual of Ashkenazi Jewish decent
  • Interest in genetic testing for cancer genes and to discuss cancer risk management options (screening, preventive surgery and chemoprevention)

Genetic counseling for cancer risk assessment involves a review of the pattern and ages of cancer diagnosis in the family and a discussion of whether this is suggestive of an inherited predisposition to cancer. This discussion includes a review of basic genetics/inheritance principles, information about whether genetic testing is available, and the cost, risks, benefits and limitations of these types of tests.

A genetic test for cancer susceptibility does not reveal the presence or absence of cancer, rather whether an individual has an inherited tendency or predisposition to cancer. Risks involved with genetic testing are not physical risks, but involve the psychological impact of such testing. For this reason, education and counseling before and after genetic testing is recommended.

Schedule an Appointment

To make an appointment, call Aurora's Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at 877-647-2502. You may also print a genetic counseling referral form (PDF, 49 KB)  for your doctor.