We’ve always known our genes tell a unique story about who we are, but we can now use our genes to potentially detect cancer early or prevent it altogether. A cancer risk assessment can estimate your risk of developing breast, ovarian, colon, uterine, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, or melanoma cancers. The risk assessment can help your health care team determine your unique risk for a hereditary cancer based on personal and family history. If the risk is elevated, you may benefit from genetic testing. If you are found to be a carrier of one of the 34 genes that can be tested for, you can be closely monitored for early detection or even the prevention of cancer. In addition, your family members can be identified and offered the same care.
Who should get it?
The American College of Breast Surgeons and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend all patients get a cancer risk assessment. Both men and women should consider a risk assessment, and potentially genetic testing, as mutations can be passed down for generations, regardless of gender. For example, men can pass a genetic mutation for breast and ovarian cancer to their daughters and women can pass a mutation for prostate cancer to their sons.
What to expect
All women presenting for a screening mammogram at one of our Kettering Breast Evaluation Centers will be offered a hereditary cancer risk assessment at no charge. The risk assessment goes over your family’s medical history at least back to grandparents, but preferably back to great-grandparents, on both sides of your family. If your family history reveals a recommendation for genetic testing, you will be offered an appointment for a pre-test genetic discussion.
If it’s determined that genetic testing is appropriate, a blood draw will be performed. Approximately four weeks after the blood draw, you will have a follow-up appointment to review results and recommendations for your care moving forward. Your family background will also be reviewed, and information can be provided for your family members if you choose. You will also have the option for following up with your health care provider for further discussion.
Genetic testing can provide you and your care team with a full picture of your potential cancer risk. If there’s a high risk, your care team can work closely with you to help prevent cancer or detect it in its early stages.
If you’re interested in a cancer risk assessment and potentially genetic testing, call (937) 425-4137.