Why Should I Consider Clinical Genetic Counseling for My Family?

In Roswell Park’s Genetics Services Center we meet with people who have personal and family histories of cancer. We try to help these families identify if there is an inherited or genetic risk factor associated with why any cancer in their family is occurring.

Many patients ask us why they would want genetic testing if they already have a cancer.  The answer is that if we can identify a genetic factor associated with their cancer, it gives us some background on why that cancer occurred. It also may show us if that person or his or her family members may have a genetic risk factor for developing other cancers in the future.

This information can impact that person’s future cancer screening and medical management—as well as the way their affected or unaffected family members will make their own health care decisions.

In recent years there has been significant improvement in genetic testing for families impacted by breast and ovarian cancer (specifically the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes) and also in colon cancer. We have seen examples of a family being tested years ago that we had a high suspicion of for genetic risk factors, but technology was not able to determine such a risk at the time. Today, with more recent technology available to us, we are often able to identify a genetic condition in those families.

This allows us now to offer testing to unaffected members of those families. The results will inform if one family member is truly at risk of being diagnosed with cancer, or if despite their family profile, if he or she personally doesn’t have the genetic factor. The benefit is that this information helps each family member to make more educated decisions about how high a level of cancer screening they should undergo.

We are pleased to offer this valuable service, which allows individuals and their families to make any modifications to their health care decisions that are in the best interests of their health.

Learn more about our Clinical Genetic Counseling services today.