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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, or aggressive prostate cancer
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry with a personal and/or family history of breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer

I've Already Had the BRCA1 and BRCA2 Tests

If you had genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in the past and received a negative or inconclusive result, you may be a candidate for additional genetic testing for hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer.

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