Genetic Counseling

The Willis-Knighton Cancer Center offers comprehensive cancer risk assessment, focusing on genetic risk factors in conjunction with clinical information and cancer family history.

Genetic testing results can be beneficial in guiding treatment. For many types of cancer, the results can support successful medical intervention and improve outcomes for patients. Predisposition, or inherited, genetic changes can be found in many cancers, including breast, ovarian, colorectal, endometrial, melanoma, thyroid, pancreatic, and prostate. 

What Is Genetic Counseling?

Cancer risk genetic counseling includes consultation with a team of healthcare professionals to review a person’s personal and family history, help determine cancer risk and provide recommendations to reduce the cancer risk and promote early detection.

Patient education guides individuals in making a truly informed decision about whether genetic testing is the right choice. Counseling aids both patients and clinicians in selecting the most appropriate genetic test and selecting the most appropriate patients that may ultimately benefit from genetic testing. 

Genetic testing encompasses

  • hereditary cancer tests that assess your genetic cancer risk,
  • diagnostic genetic tests that assist in the diagnosis of disease,
  • prognostic genetic tests that predict the aggressiveness of disease or the likelihood of disease progression,
  • companion diagnostic tests that assist in the treatment of disease.

Counseling after genetic testing helps to explain the meaning and implications of the test result. It also provides result-specific background regarding genes and conditions and helps to identify gene-specific information, including relevant literature and studies, published management guidelines, and patient resources. Individuals may be advised to have more frequent monitoring to help detect cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage and improve cancer survival. 

Patients tested for diagnostic cancer genetic testing may choose to schedule a more comprehensive post-test genetic counseling session specific to their own medical and family histories. Genetic test results can also help relatives learn more about the inherited risk and how it may affect them. For example, family members who do not carry mutations that increase their cancer risk may avoid unnecessary medical interventions. 

What Do I Do?

If you are concerned about your personal or family history, start by speaking with your healthcare provider. Genetic evaluation and counseling are the first steps in determining the likelihood that you or your family may have a hereditary predisposition to cancer.  A genetics consultation typically lasts about one hour. 

The consultation includes:

  • compiling a complete family history,
  • ·obtaining and reviewing medical records,
  • assessment of personal and familial risks,
  • discussion of options, including DNA testing, medical surveillance and lifestyle modifications,
  • discussion of benefits and limitations of testing,
  • gene analysis, if appropriate and desired, with follow-up,
  • referral to other healthcare professionals for customized management, per published guidelines.

Am I A Candidate For Genetic Testing?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, genetic counseling may be beneficial:

  • Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with cancer at a young age (for example, before age 50)?
  • Do you have more than one relative with the same type of cancer? If yes, is it seen in more than one generation?
  • Has anyone in your family had more than one type of cancer? (such as both breast and stomach cancer)
  • Has anyone in your family had a rare cancer (such as ovarian, male breast cancer or sarcoma)
  • Are you related to someone known to have an inherited mutation that can cause cancer?
  • Are you of eastern European ancestry?

To find out more about cancer risk and genetic counseling, call for an appointment, (318) 212-6214.