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Genetic Counseling and Testing, Cancer

A-Z Index

While 90 percent of cancer cases happen due to lifestyle, environmental or aging factors, five to 10 percent of cancers are passed down from generation to generation. If you or your family members have been diagnosed with colon, breast, ovarian or uterine cancer, you could be at increased risk for developing these cancers.

Does cancer run in your family? How do I know if I am at increased risk?

Take the following risk-factor questionnaire, which may identify a few indicators that could increase your risk for colon, breast, ovarian or uterine cancer.

Virtua for Women article:
Genetic Testing: To Do Or Not To Do

Breast and ovarian cancer syndromes

Genetic tests are available for hereditary breast cancer. Among them are the most common hereditary breast cancer syndromes involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. When genetic testing is completed and an alteration is found in one of the identified genes, an individual’s risk for developing certain types of cancer is significantly increased. For women, there is an increased risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. For men, there is an increased risk for breast and prostate cancer. In addition, men and women who have already been diagnosed with these cancers are at increased risk for developing a second cancer.

Colorectal cancer syndromes

Genetic tests are available for hereditary colon cancer. Common hereditary cancer syndromes include Lynch Syndrome and FAP. Lynch Syndrome (or HNPCC) is an inherited condition that increases your chances for colon, uterine, ovarian and other cancers. FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis) is an inherited condition that causes an individual to have hundreds of colon polyps and significantly increases the risk for colon cancer. Testing is also available for other gastrointestinal hereditary cancer syndromes.

By making an appointment and completing your personal cancer risk assessment with the Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Genetics Program, you will be empowered to make informed health decisions for yourself and your family. Cancer genetics experts will guide you through the process to determine your risk, make decisions about testing, and plan your next steps to decrease your risk for cancer or increase screening to detect cancer early. Our experts will also provide important information about the risks and screening recommendations for your family members.

As a participant, you will:

  • Receive individualized and comprehensive counseling from cancer genetics experts including medical oncologists trained in cancer genetics, advanced practice nurses, board-certified genetic counselors and social workers
  • Discover if you have an increased risk for cancer
  • Learn about the benefits, risks and limitations of genetic testing
  • Undergo genetic testing, if appropriate
  • Learn what you can do to decrease your risk for developing cancer (screening, medical, surgical)
  • Receive information regarding clinical trials, if eligible

Breast and ovarian clinical trials

If you have breast or ovarian cancer and are willing to participate in a research study, you may be eligible for the Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program conducted in partnership with the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

As a participant, you will help provide insight into hereditary factors, or genes, that influence cancer risk and gain access to the latest news and information on cancer genetics.