Genetic Counseling

Genetic Services for Cancer Diagnosis: When, Where, How

If cancer runs in your family, when do you need genetic services?

There are many features that can be present in a family that would indicate a referral is needed for genetic services. The following is a general (partial) checklist of characteristics that may indicate an increased risk of familial cancer or a heritable cancer syndrome. The symptoms of genetic diseases may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis and a complete list of characteristics:

Family History

  • A family history of multiple cases of the same or related types of cancer
  • One or more relatives with rare cancers
  • Cancers occurring at an earlier age of onset than usual (for instance, under the age of 50 years) in at least one family member
  • Bilateral cancers (two cancers that develop independently in a paired organ, for example, both kidneys or both breasts)
  • One or more family members with two primary cancers (two original tumors that develop in different sites)
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background

For additional information on Genetic Counseling, please visit these facilities:

Leon Hess Cancer Center at Monmouth Medical Center

The Cancer Centers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center

How genetic services can help

Genetic services can provide the following:

  • Information about the significance of your family history in terms of your risk of developing cancer and the chance that you have a cancer genetic syndrome.
  • A diagnosis of a cancer genetic syndrome by physical examination and/or genetic laboratory testing.
  • Details about the availability of genetic testing for cancer risk and the pros and cons of such testing.
  • Information about how or why a cancer genetic syndrome occurred (in most cases).
  • Details about the chance for the cancer genetic syndrome to reoccur in the family and individual relatives’ chance of having and passing on a mutation in a cancer susceptibility gene.
  • Recommendations for the management and treatment of the cancer genetic syndrome.
  • Support groups for the cancer genetic syndrome.
  • Connections to other families who have a similar, or the same, disorder.

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