Who Should Consider Genetic Counseling

Find your care

Learn about your inherited risks so you can make informed decisions about your health care. For more information, connect with a cancer care specialist at 888-662-8252.

You may wish to see a genetic counselor if you have a personal or family history of cancer. We welcome all individuals and families who have a concern about a cancer diagnosis or a family history of cancer. Our team can help assess your family's risk and options for management and genetic testing.

Risk Factors

Family History

Female doctor speaking to a patient
  • A personal or family history of ovarian cancer.
  • A personal history or family history of metastatic prostate cancer.
  • A personal or family history of pancreatic cancer.
  • Clustering of the same or related types of cancer(s) in relatives. For example, multiple relatives on the same side of the family with colon cancer or other gastrointestinal cancers, especially if diagnosed under the age of 50. Another example would be having multiple family members diagnosed with breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreas cancers.
  • Certain ethnicities. For example, individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are at higher risk to carry inherited mutations in some genes known to increase the risk for cancer.

Previous Cancer Diagnosis

  • Breast cancer diagnosed at a young age (≤45) or if you were diagnosed with breast cancer (≤50) and have other affected family members, or if you were diagnosed with a triple negative breast cancer (ER, PR and HER2 negative) breast cancer (≤60).
  • Colon cancer or other gastrointestinal cancer diagnosed under the age of 50.
  • Screening or genetic testing performed on a tumor that indicates you might have an inherited genetic predisposition.
  • Certain types of colon polyps or more polyps than we would expect by chance.
    • 10 or more adenomas
    • 2 or more hamartomas
    • Any number of Peutz-Jegher type polyps or juvenile polyps
    • 5 or more serrated polyps
    • Several polyps that are a mix of the different types listed above
  • Multiple individual, primary cancers in the same or other organs or tissues (that did not spread from the same cancer)
  • Bilateral cancer in paired organs (e.g. kidney cancer in both kidneys or breast cancer in both breasts)
  • Rare tumors or cancers; or a rare tumor type as described by a pathologist in an otherwise common cancer. Some examples include adrenocortical cancer, paragangliomas, pheochromocytomas and retinoblastoma.

Other Medical Findings

  • Other medical findings such as physical differences, birth defects, unusual birthmarks or skin findings, etc., combined with a family and/or personal history of cancer.
  • A known mutation in a cancer predisposition gene such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 in you or a family member.
  • A confirmed diagnosis of a hereditary cancer syndrome. It is reasonable to periodically check back in with genetics to see if guidelines for management have changed.

Even if you met with a genetic counselor years ago, and your testing was negative, genetic testing is becoming less expensive and technologies continue to improve. We may be able to offer you new testing.

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