Prevention And Treatment FAQs
Common Cancer Genetics Questions
How much cancer is hereditary?
Approximately 5-10% of individuals with cancer have a hereditary form, or predisposition to cancer. Hereditary cancer is the result of changes in genetic information that then predisposes people to certain types of cancer. These changes in the genetic information are passed on in families, from generation to generation. For many hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing is available to potentially identify the cause of cancer in the family.
Who can benefit from a cancer risk assessment?
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
What does the genetic cancer risk assessment consist of?
- Initial consultation with a Genetic Counselor
- Coordination of genetic testing (if indicated) at the end of the initial consultation
- Second consultation with a Genetic Counselor and physician to review test results and provide summary management recommendations for the patient and family members. Click here for more information on Clinical Services.
How long does it take to get genetic test results?
This depends on which genetic test is indicated and ordered. For the most common breast cancer genetic testing, there is only one lab that performs the test and results are typically available in 2-3 weeks. For colon cancer genetic testing and melanoma genetic testing, results are typically available in 3-6 weeks depending on the specific test ordered. For more rare hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing may take 6-8 weeks.
If I've already had cancer, how does genetic testing help me?
Many patients who go through genetic testing currently have, or have previously had cancer. Genetic testing may provide an explanation for their cancer and may also identify if other body parts are at elevated risk for cancer and thus need to be screened more closely. Genetic test results can also help determine cancer risks for family members.
Does insurance cover genetic counseling and testing?
The majority of patients have insurance coverage for genetic counseling and testing. Our patient account specialists verify coverage prior to the patient consultation and alert the patient if genetic services are not a covered benefit. The third party laboratory that performs and bills for the genetic test will also verify coverage for the specific genetic test ordered.
Can insurance companies use my genetic test result against me?
No. There are federal and state laws that provide protection against this and there are no documented cases of genetic discrimination following genetic counseling or testing for cancer risk.