Although we proactively screen our patients for hereditary breast cancer risk at EWBC, our genetic counselor is available to meet with patients at risk for any hereditary cancer syndrome.
Over the past several years, advances in the field of cancer genetics have given patients the opportunity to determine their predisposition to certain cancers, including breast cancer, to help initiate proper medical management. Although multiple risk factors for breast cancer are known, personal and family history of cancer are key elements impacting cancer risk.
The goal of our Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Counseling Program is the early detection and/or prevention of breast and other cancers. Any patient with a personal or family history of cancer meeting NCCN guidelines or a 5% risk or greater of a mutation is eligible for genetic counseling and possible testing.
Please note: If you previously have tested negative for BRCA1 or BRCA2, you may be a candidate for additional genetic testing. Current testing protocols include panels with dozens of cancer genes.
Personal and/or family history of cancer suggestive of a hereditary syndrome include:
- Breast cancer 45 or younger
- Premenopausal breast cancer
- Male breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with breast, uterine, prostate, colon or pancreatic cancers
- Ashkenazi Jewish descent and at least one relative diagnosed with an appropriate cancer
- Rare cancers
- Young age of diagnosis (<50)
- Relative with positive results for any hereditary cancer gene
If you have a personal and/or family history of cancer, you may want to understand the implications of this history for both yourself and your family members. By learning if you have a hereditary predisposition to breast cancer, you will have the opportunity to discuss your personalized cancer risks with your health care providers to develop a customized medical management plan, which may include:
Increased breast cancer surveillance, including mammography, clinical breast examination and breast MRI, preventative surgery (i.e. risk-reducing mastectomy and/or oophorectomy) and/or Chemoprevention (drugs used to reduce cancer risk, such as Tamoxifen)
A genetic counseling appointment takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes. During this time, our board certified genetic counselor meets with the patient and obtains a detailed personal and family history of cancer. After performing a personalized breast cancer risk assessment, she determines a patient’s eligibility for additional breast cancer services, including breast MRI and/or genetic testing. For patients who are candidates for genetic testing, the genetic counselor will discuss risks, benefits and limitations. She will also answer any questions patients have regarding their personal and/or family history of cancer so patients can decide if testing is right for them.
If the patient chooses to pursue genetic testing after this discussion, informed consent is obtained.Either a blood draw or mouthwash sample is then collected and sent to the laboratory for testing. Results are typically available in approximately two to three weeks. However some test results take much longer.
This page is intended as an educational resource only. It is not a substitute for professional care. Please see your physician if you have any concerns about your own health.