If one of your relatives has had cancer or if you’ve had cancer yourself, you may wonder about the inherited risk for the disease. Genetic counseling, offered through the Providence Cancer Center, can help provide answers.
Our counselors explain the genetic links for certain types of cancer and help you determine if testing is right for you or others in your family. We educate you about genetic testing — what it’s for, how it works, what information it can and cannot provide.
Decisions about genetic testing and counseling are highly personal and strictly up to you. If it’s an option you decide to pursue, you can count on us to guide you through the process with personalized attention and emotional support.
Genetic counseling may be appropriate for you if:
- After being diagnosed with cancer you’re concerned about the cancer risk for your children, siblings or other relatives
- Several members of your family have had cancer
You may benefit from talking to one of our counselors if:
- You or a close relative have had a rare type of cancer
- You or a close relative have had more than one type of cancer
- You or a relative were diagnosed with cancer before age 50
- You’re a cancer survivor and are wondering about your chances of developing a second cancer
Having a personal or family history of cancer doesn’t necessarily mean genetics were behind it. Often, the disease can be due to chance or a common environment. We can help you determine your risk.
When you come to us for genetic counseling, we will:
- Address your concerns related to cancer and genetics
- Discuss the possibility and process for genetic testing
- Explain the biology and genetics of inherited cancer
- Send a summary letter to you and your doctor(s) outlining our discussion. We will also review options available to you for managing your cancer risk, such as screening.
No referral is required for our services. However, some insurers do require a referral from a doctor before they will cover genetic counseling. We suggest contacting your insurance provider to verify coverage before scheduling your appointment.
If other family members have underdone genetic testing in the past, it may be helpful to ask them to provide a copy of their results. If they need to request these from their provider, this form may be helpful.
Susan’s older sister was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Through genetic counseling, Susan learned she was at risk of having inherited a genetic change in BRCA2, a gene linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Susan was stunned and confused about her cancer risk, so she met with a genetic counselor. She learned that while her chances of inheriting the gene were high, there are many screening and surgical options available to women who are at increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
A genetic counselor helped Susan take preventive steps. This enabled her to feel confident about her ability to reduce her risk and detect cancer early.
Deborah was 32 years old when she lost a close childhood friend to breast cancer. Constantly worried about her own risk for developing the disease, she visited her doctor three times in one year to have clinical breast exams.
On Deborah’s third visit, her doctor recommended she meet with a genetic counselor to discuss her risk. Through genetic counseling, Deborah was relieved to learn that her personal risk of breast cancer is less than that of an average woman.
Deborah learned the importance of knowing one’s family history. She will begin mammogram screening at the age of 40, as is generally recommended.