Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Testing
Anyone concerned about a personal and/or family history of cancer can benefit from a hereditary cancer risk evaluation.
Especially individuals with a personal and/or family history of:
- Cancer occurring younger than expected (typically before age 45-50)
- More than one type of cancer in the same person (separate primary cancers, not an original cancer spreading to other parts of the body)
- Two or more family members with the same type of cancer
- A rare or unusual type of cancer
How to schedule an appointment
A patient can contact the Cancer Genetics Program directly at 714-734-6229 to schedule an appointment or be referred by one of their physicians. A brief telephone interview is completed to review personal and family history and to answer questions about the program services. We ask all new patients to complete an in-depth cancer risk questionnaire and family history form in preparation for the consultation.
The initial visit (approximately one hour) includes a meeting with a Genetic Counselor. At this time, your personal and family history is reviewed and education is provided regarding basic genetic principles and how they apply to cancer. Your detailed personal and family history is assessed to determine if genetic testing for a particular hereditary cancer syndrome is indicated or not.
If genetic testing is recommended, education is provided regarding the specific genetic test, the possible test results and the implications of results for both the patient and family members.
If genetic testing is not indicated, education is provided as to why not and individualized cancer screening recommendations are provided for the patient and family members based upon the cancers and risk factors present in the family.
Genetic testing involves obtaining a small blood sample, which is sent to an offsite specialty laboratory. The specialty laboratory essentially "proofreads" the gene to look for any "mistakes" or mutations that would cause the gene to not work properly. If a gene mutation is found, this means that the person is at increased risk for certain types of cancers. Also, his or her family members may carry the gene mutation and thus be at increased risk for certain types of cancer.
Genetic testing typically takes from three to eight weeks. When results are available, the patient returns to the Cancer Genetics Program for a second consultation (20-30 minutes) with the same Genetic Counselor and one of our physicians. During the second visit, the genetic test result and interpretation is provided and screening and prevention recommendations are provided for the patient and their family members.
Reports and confidentiality
After each visit, a summary consultation report is provided to the patient and any physicians to whom the patient wants the information sent.
All personal and family information and genetic testing results are confidential and will not be released to anyone without the patient's prior written consent.
Some patients have expressed concerns that insurance companies may use genetic information against them. There are federal and state laws that provide protection again this. There are no documented cases of genetic discrimination following genetic counseling or testing for cancer risk. Our Genetic Counselors can provide more information about this during the patient consultation.
Cancer genetics is a dynamic and evolving field. All patients are invited to participate in our Hereditary Cancer Research Registry. The registry is in collaboration with the City of Hope Clinical Cancer Genetics Department to further explore additional clinical and research opportunities.
Our team also explores other research options on a case-by-case basis to identify cancer genetics research opportunities that may benefit patients. Research participation is completely voluntary and is not required to be seen by our program.