Most cancers are not due to an inherited predisposition. However, your personal and/or family history may mean that you have an increased risk for cancer. Our cancer genetic counselors offer personalized risk assessment to help you and your family members be proactive with your health. If you are found to be at higher risk to develop cancer based on family history and/or the presence of a harmful inherited genetic variant, also known as a mutation, we will recommend individualized changes to your medical care to manage and reduce those risks.
When there are multiple cases of colon cancer in a family, this may be due to chance, shared environmental factors, known or unknown genes, or a combination of genes and environment. Roughly 5 to 10 percent of colon cancers are hereditary, where the risk is passed in specific versions of genes, from parent to child.
Our board-certified and licensed genetic counselors help you understand these risks. Your genetic makeup alone does not determine whether you will develop cancer. Knowing your risks allows physicians to provide personalized proactive monitoring, prevention strategies and treatment for you and your loved ones.
You may wish to see a genetic counselor if you have:
Our genetic counselors can help patients understand their genetic risks by providing them with the following services:
Personalized genetic risk assessment
You and your genetic counselor review your personal history, medical records, and family history. Before your first meeting, you will complete a questionnaire about your personal and family history of cancer. We understand that getting this information from relatives may be difficult, but we ask that gather as much information as you can. Knowing the specific kinds of cancer and the ages when your family members were diagnosed allows for the best estimation of your hereditary cancer risk and the most beneficial genetic testing.
If testing is appropriate and you decide that you want to have it, we can order genetic testing at your genetic risk assessment appointment. Your genetic counselor will discuss the benefits and limitations, as well as the cost and insurance coverage, of genetic testing. Testing is usually done on a blood or saliva sample. Once results are available, your genetic counselor will explain them to you, provide you with copies of your results and discuss the next steps in your care.
Medical referrals and guidance
Medical guidelines exist to help healthcare providers monitor patients with certain genetic risks. Your genetic counselor will provide a personalized plan for cancer screening, may offer recommendations for other strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, and may provide referrals to specialists based on your unique history and genetic testing results. Our genetic counselors work with other UCLA experts as a team. This helps us streamline your medical care and gives you access to high-caliber monitoring, prevention and treatment at UCLA.
Several hereditary cancer syndromes increase your risk for colon cancer and other cancer types.
Below are some of the more common hereditary cancer syndromes that increase colon cancer risk.
Health insurance almost always covers a genetic counseling consultation and risk assessment. If your personal and/or family history meets certain criteria, genetic testing is covered as well. Your actual out of pocket cost depends on your insurance plan and factors such as unmet deductible and copay. If you have a managed care plan, your doctor may need to request authorization first in order for your appointment to be paid by insurance. The cost of genetic testing has dropped significantly in recent years. We will discuss testing options, insurance coverage, and costs with you in detail during your initial appointment with us.
For more information or to make an appointment with a cancer genetic counselor:
Bowyer Oncology Clinic
200 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90095