The goal of genetic counselling is to help people to learn more about hereditary forms of cancer, to understand their own risk of developing cancer and to learn about options for cancer screening and/or risk reduction. Genetic counselling includes:
- Genes and how they are passed down from parents to children
- Current information about genes and cancer
- The differences between "sporadic" cancers (which occur by chance so everyone has the same risk) and "hereditary" cancers (which seem to run in families and may be linked to a specific gene mutation)
- A detailed review of the "family tree", with special attention to anyone who has had cancer
- Interpreting the pattern of cancer in the family history and its significance to an individual woman or man in the family; some people may learn that their cancer risk is much lower than they thought it was, and others may learn that their risk is higher
- Is genetic testing, to try to identify a specific gene mutation, possible for the individual and/or their family members?
- Factors to consider with regards to genetic testing, including the possible impact on family relationships and other risks, benefits and limitations
- Current recommendations for early detection (screening) and/or prevention of cancer
Following genetic counselling, you will receive a written cancer risk assessment and screening recommendations. You will work with your primary care provider to implement the recommendations.