The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, the state's only comprehensive cancer center, offers cancer genetics risk assessment and counseling to women and men who have concerns about their personal and/or family history of cancer.
Participants are provided with personalized information regarding genetic influences, specific cancer risks and targeted screening and prevention options.
What is involved in a cancer genetics risk assessment?
- Collection of detailed medical and family histories
- Gathering and reviewing relevant medical records
- Educating patients about genetic and non-genetic cancer risk factors
- Determining the probability of a hereditary basis to the cancer in the family
- Providing cancer risk estimates for the patient and family members
- Discussion of the availability, risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing
- Facilitating psychosocial adjustment to cancer risk and management choices
- Addressing issues of insurance reimbursement and privacy
Who should get a cancer genetics risk assessment?
Patients who may benefit from cancer genetics risk assessment include individuals with a personal and/or a family history cancer with:
- Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with cancer
- Early age of onset cancers, such as cancer diagnosed under the age of 50
- More than one cancer in the same individual (ie. bilateral cancers, multifocal tumors or multiple primaries)
- Rare cancers (ie. male breast cancer, medullary thyroid cancer)
- A known altered cancer susceptibility gene or hereditary cancer syndrome in the family
What are the benefits of a cancer genetics risk assessment?
Identification of hereditary cancer susceptibility allows for implementation of potentially life-saving management strategies for those determined to be at increased risk.
Individuals with a family history of cancer have been found to frequently overestimate their personal risks. For these patients, cancer genetics risk assessment can provide reassurance and allow for appropriate modification of screening.
Cancer genetics risk assessment may also be beneficial to individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer by providing information which may be relevant to treatment decisions and follow-up care.
Individuals found not to have inherited an identified hereditary predisposition will be able to avoid unnecessary additional screening and possible surgery.