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Home  /   Cancer Care  /   Risk Assessment

What is a cancer risk assessment?

Before undergoing genetic testing, you will have a consultation with a genetic professional to:

  • Understand when genetic testing is appropriate*
  • Review your personal and family medical history of cancer
  • Assess your individual and family risk of developing cancer
  • Discuss options for screening and medical management of your cancer risk
  • Learn about the benefits and limitations of genetic testing
  • Discuss a customized care plan based on your genetic findings
  • Learn about opportunities to participate in clinical studies or research

*Deciding to undergo genetic testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the consultation or at a later date. A genetic consultation does not require any testing.

What happens if you test positive?

Knowing that you are a carrier of a genetic mutation that increases your risk of cancer enables you to make better decisions about your health. A positive test result may indicate more frequent or advanced screenings for certain types of cancer, which may increase the likelihood that cancer will be detected early and treatment will result in a better outcome. For some types of cancer, medications may be used to reduce the risk of developing the disease. Some providers may recommend genetic testing to identify certain mutations that may allow for consideration of additional therapeutic options such as PARP inhibitors. In certain cases, prophylactic surgery may be an option.

Cost of genetic testing

Genetic counseling and testing are typically covered by insurance. Holy Name's genetic professionals will help you determine insurance coverage for testing and assist in obtaining reimbursement from your insurance carrier.

Who should have genetic counseling?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may want to consider genetic counseling.

  • Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with cancer – especially breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic or gastric – at an unusually early age?
  • Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer under the age of 60?
  • Do you have more than one blood relative with the same type of cancer?
  • Has any one person in your family had more than one type of cancer?
  • Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with bilateral (both sides) cancer of paired organs such as ovaries, breasts or kidneys?
  • Do you or a family member have a history of unusual cancers, such as male breast cancer or medullary thyroid cancer?
  • Is there a personal or family history of large numbers of colon polyps?
  • Are you related to someone with a known inherited mutation that can cause cancer?