Cancer Genetics Services

One in three Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime, and at least 10% of these cancers are hereditary. But there’s also good news – advancements in medicine have identified risk factors that may influence a person’s chance of developing cancer.

Our Clinical Genetics and Genomics Program offers risk assessment, genetic testing and genetic counseling for people concerned about their personal or family history of cancer. We also help individuals with newly diagnosed cancer determine what surgical and medical treatments may be most effective based on their test results. Some hereditary cancers, such as breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, endometrial and colon, can be treated with therapies that target an underlying change in a gene, called a mutation.

Knowing your risk can change your future by empowering you and your family to make more informed health decisions. And your decisions can lead to better cancer treatments, earlier cancer detection and prevention.

Genetic testing for inherited cancers

Genes can play a role in developing cancer. Learn about who can benefit from genetic testing for inherited cancers.

A consultation with a genetic counselor can give you a picture of your cancer risk. It may give you peace of mind or the knowledge you need to protect your health. Take the following short survey to find out if a consultation is right for you. (“Family members” include any first-degree relatives (mother, father, siblings, children), second-degree relatives (aunts/uncles, grandparents, nieces/nephews) and third-degree relatives (cousins, great-aunts/uncles, grandchildren).

  • Have you or any family members been diagnosed with breast, colon, stomach, prostate or uterine cancer before age 50?
  • Have you or any family members developed a rare type of cancer, such as ovarian, male breast, pancreatic or endocrine or a sarcoma?
  • Have you or any family members had more than 10 colon polyps?
  • Have you or any family members had more than one type of cancer or bilateral cancers – for example, breast and colon cancer or breast cancer in both breasts?
  • Have multiple family members been diagnosed with cancer of any type?
  • Do you have Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry? If so, have you or any family members had breast, ovarian, pancreatic or prostate cancer?
  • Have you or any family members had highly aggressive or metastatic prostate cancer?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, we recommend a genetic risk assessment. We encourage you to call 818-748-4748 to schedule an appointment or email our program.

If you are adopted, do not have complete information about your family history or do not meet any of the above criteria, there are still options for genetic testing. If you are interested in learning about your cancer risks, please call or email our program.

We offer several services for convenient cancer risk assessments and early detection.

Walk-In Genetics Clinic

Our same-day walk-in clinic offers streamlined genetic testing for patients with a cancer diagnosis who are being treated at Providence or are referred by their oncology team to our program. Many people undergoing genetic testing will want a formal pre-test consultation with a genetic counselor. However, for some, a quick stop at our walk-in clinic is a convenient alternative. For instance, this may help patients with a recent cancer diagnosis who are managing many appointments and information.

Patients complete a family history questionnaire, watch a short educational video about hereditary cancer and provide a blood sample for testing. A genetic counselor reviews the patient's medical and family history, oversees testing and communicates the results to the patient. Our counselors also offer post-test counseling.

Breast Imaging and Cancer Risk Screening Program

We offer risk assessment and same-day genetic testing in partnership with our breast imaging centers. This service uses digital health tools to identify patients who have a mutation (genetic change) that increases their risk of hereditary cancer.

Patients who meet national guidelines for being at increased risk for cancer are offered same-day genetic testing following their mammogram. Our genetic counselors meet with patients who test positive for a mutation to talk about what it means for their health and steps they can take to maintain their health.

Pancreatic Cancer Screening and Prevention

Our Pancreatic Cancer Screening and Prevention Program is an innovative all-in-one research program for patients at increased genetic risk for pancreatic cancer. Our highly specialized team consists of physicians trained in genetics (medical geneticists), genetic counselors, nutritionists and research scientists. They work closely with a team of gastroenterologists and pancreatic surgeons.

The program provides patients with a personalized genetic risk assessment and a preventive health care plan for monitoring themselves and their families. A health care plan also may include regular blood tests, imaging exams and diet and lifestyle changes.

Through work at our multidisciplinary clinic, we hope to help identify factors that can prevent pancreatic cancer and detect early-stage, curable disease.

You are eligible to enroll in the program if you have a:

  • Mutation in a pancreatic cancer risk gene
  • Personal history of pancreatic cancer
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Personal history of recurrent pancreatitis
  • Personal history of pancreatic cysts

If you have a personal or family history of pancreatic cancer or recurrent pancreatitis but have not had genetic testing, we encourage you to start with a visit with one of our genetic counselors.

High-Risk Management and Prevention

All patients who have a risk assessment receive an individualized care plan and recommendations for managing their risk. Patients at increased risk for pancreatic cancer get extra attention in our high-risk program. Our physicians follow these patients over the long term to ensure they are receiving the care they need.

They also can provide regular clinical exams, order imaging studies and prescribe preventive medications. Our high-risk program keeps patients up to date on the latest care guidelines and offers information on lifestyle changes, including nutrition, supplements and programs to reduce mind-body stress.

If you have questions about any of our services or are interested in scheduling an appointment, please call 818-748-4748 or email our program.