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8095 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031


What Is Cancer Genetic Counseling?

Most cancers are not inherited. However, for some people, the risk for developing certain kinds of cancer does run in their family.

At Inova, cancer genetic counseling is provided by board-certified genetic counselors that specialize in cancer risk assessment and the latest genetic testing technologies. Your cancer genetic counselor will:

  • Review your medical history, your family history of cancer, any other cancer risk factors, and prior genetic testing results, if applicable
  • Explain the different ways we can estimate your risk for developing certain kind(s) of cancer
  • Describe the likelihood that your personal and/or family history of cancer is due to inherited risk
  • Discuss the benefits, limitations and risks of genetic testing
  • Recommend and coordinate appropriate genetic testing
  • Interpret and fully explain your genetic test results to you
  • Provide you with personalized cancer screening and prevention recommendations

Can You Benefit From Cancer Genetic Counseling?

Cancer genetic counseling is typically most helpful for individuals with a personal and/or family history of:

  • Early onset cancers, such as breast or colon cancer diagnosed before age 50
  • The same kind or related cancers in two or more close relatives, especially if one person was diagnosed before age 50
  • Multiple separate cancers in the same person (for example, a woman with two separate breast cancers, a woman with colon and endometrial cancer, or a man with colon cancer and brain cancer)
  • Rare cancer(s), such as adrenal gland cancer, male breast cancer, pancreatic cancer or aggressive prostate cancer
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry with a personal and/or family history of breast, ovarian, prostate or pancreatic cancer

I have already had genetic testing, do I need more testing?

Some patients may have undergone genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer that was limited to the high-risk genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, or they may have had testing for hereditary colon cancer that was limited to the genes associated with Lynch syndrome. If those prior results were negative, it is often reasonable for those individuals to consider more comprehensive testing using a multigene panel. Please see more information below.