Genetic Risk Evaluation

How Do I Know if I Have Hereditary Cancer?

Cancer can be sporadic, familial, or hereditary.  Hereditary cancers are due to gene mutations which are passed from generation to generation. Understanding which category your cancer falls into will impact your cancer management & medical management for your family members. The Zangmeister Cancer Center offers genetic evaluations and education to determine the category into which your cancer falls.

Genetic Testing is a Valuable Tool in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer

Genetic testing can be a significant tool in both the prevention and treatment of hereditary cancer. The Zangmeister Cancer Center offers genetic risk evaluation, education and testing to help our patients identify and manage their inherited risk of cancer and to understand the role genes play in causing cancer. Our approach includes a meticulous risk assessment, an in-depth family tree analysis, testing (if appropriate) and a results analysis by a skilled oncologist who has the experience to identify risks and design and oversee an appropriate risk-reduction program. This program could involve medical treatment, preventive surgery and/or more comprehensive screenings.

Risk Factors to Consider

Several factors signal the need to talk to your doctor about whether a genetic consultation is right for you. You should consider a consultation if any of the following applies to you or your family:

  • Cancer of the breast, colon or uterus prior to the age of 50
  • Any woman who has had ovarian cancer
  • Multiple members of the family diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer
  • Any male who has had breast cancer
  • Multiple cancers diagnosed in the same person (breast, ovarian, colon, uterus, etc.)
  • Multiple members of the family with any Lynch syndrome cancer*
  • Colon polyps in multiple family members
  • Ten or more colon polyps in one person
  • Certain ancestries may have greater risk for hereditary cancer syndromes, such as Jewish women with breast cancer.

* Lynch syndrome cancers include colon, endometrial, stomach, ovarian, gastrointestinal, renal-pelvic, bladder, bile duct, prostate, liver, pancreatic, esophageal, brain, prostate and some breast cancers.

What to Expect at Your First Genetic Consultation

Before your first visit, we ask that you complete a questionnaire about your personal health and your family’s background. The questionnaire covers extended family, including cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, and great aunts and uncles. CLICK HERE to access the Hereditary Cancer Questionnaire. You will be asked to create an account so you can return to the questionnaire and update it as necessary before submitting it to us. This information will be used by an oncologist to develop a family tree and analyze any patters that might suggest hereditary cancer.

Your Hereditary Cancer Questionnaire will not be viewed or evaluated by physicians at The Zangmeister Cancer Center until you have an appointment. The genetic consultation will take about one hour and will include education regarding cancer risks, the genetic testing process, insurance issues and options available for managing your risk.

If testing is warranted, we will collect a blood or saliva sample during your first visit and schedule a follow-up visit to review the results.. Depending on the outcome, you and your oncologist will work together to determine the risk management strategy that’s best for you. This could include:

  • More frequent and/or a different type of cancer screening
  • Medical treatment to reduce your risk
  • Preventive surgery, which may be highly effective in certain circumstances
  • Management of the cancer risk for family members, if appropriate

Your genetic consultation at The Zangmeister Cancer Center is typically covered by insurance. While it’s commonly believed that genetic test results may affect a patient’s insurability, this is an unfounded concern. State and federal laws prohibit genetic discrimination for both employment and medical insurance.