Heredity Cancer Screening

  • Denise Rokitka with pediatric patient.

At Roswell Park Oishei Children’s, we know that a pediatric cancer diagnosis for your child can lead to many questions about the future. Will anyone else in the family get cancer? Do our family genes carry a mutation? Is there a way to find out who else is at risk?

Our Clinical Genetics Services at Roswell Park can help. Our genetic counselors can provide you and your family with a personalized and complete cancer-risk evaluation in a caring, secure setting.

Genetic testing may confirm a specific gene mutation as the cause of a diagnosed cancer. It can also:

  • Identify your family’s risks for other cancers or conditions
  • Check whether family members are more likely to develop cancer
  • Use the results to adjust how your family’s healthcare is managed moving forward

What’s Involved in Cancer Genetic Testing?

At your appointment, you will meet with one of our Clinical Genetics Counselors. They will do the following for you and your family:

  • Assess your family’s cancer risk
  • Analyze your genetic pedigree (a diagram of your family tree)
  • Discuss the genetic factors that come with specific cancers
  • Recommend cancer screenings and prevention
  • Offer choices for your family members to have genetic testing and take part in research and registries, if those apply to your family
  • Address each family member’s concerns about genetic issues
  • Address personal, mental health, social, ethical and legal issues involved in cancer genetic testing

Who Should have Genetic Testing?

If you are concerned about your or your family’s risk for cancer because of personal history – such as your child being diagnosed with cancer – a genetic screening is recommended. Even if you don’t have an extensive family or personal history of cancer, you may still be at greater risk and could benefit from a genetic consultation.

Inherited Cancer Risk Factors 

Unlike adult cancers, the cause of most childhood cancers is largely unknown. Pediatric cancers are not caused by lifestyle factors like smoking. In a small number of cases the causes may include:

  • Genetic Syndromes: Conditions such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis, and Gorlin’s syndrome can increase the risk for some pediatric cancers. Roswell Park's Clinical Genetic Service can help identify if your child or family is at risk.
  • Down Syndrome: Down syndrome raises a child’s risk for leukemia.
  • Exposure to High Levels of Ionizing Radiation: Being exposed to radiation from an industrial accident or radiotherapy raises the risk for cancer.
  • Prior Cancer: If your child has had cancer in the past and been treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, it raises his or her risk for cancer.
  • AIDS: Children with AIDS are at greater risk for Hodgkin lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, and leiomyosarcoma.

Children at a higher risk for cancer will be screened at Roswell Park by Dr. Denise Rokitka, our pediatric cancer syndrome screening expert. She works closely with the Roswell Park genetics department to make sure patients with risk factors or hereditary cancer syndrome in their families are closely monitored and screened throughout their lifetime.

What Does it Cost?

  • Genetic Consultation: While it depends on how wide-ranging and complex the consult is, in general, the initial, full genetic consults range from $250- $450. Follow-up or limited consults are most often less. Most insurances cover the cost of this but as always, it’s best to check your health plan before making the appointment.
  • Genetic Testing: The cost for genetic testing varies, and is based on the gene tested as well as the way it’s analyzed.

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the Clinical Genetics Service for your family, please contact our Cancer Information Program at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355). An information specialist will complete a brief genetics form with you over the phone and we will contact you to set up an appointment.