Somewhere between 5% and 10% of cancers are hereditary, which means they can be passed from generation to generation through genetic mutations. The goal of genetic counseling is to figure out if a cancer in your family is hereditary, and to reduce the risk of that cancer affecting you or your relatives.
Genetic counseling could be useful to you if:
- You have been diagnosed with cancer and want to know if it could affect blood relatives like your siblings, children and grandchildren.
- Several people in your family have had the same kind of cancer and you want to know if it could affect you or your relatives.
At Overlake Cancer Center, our team includes a board-certified genetic counselor who has special expertise in cancer genetics. At your first genetic counseling appointment, they will ask you questions about your medical history and cancer in your family. This will help them evaluate whether the cancer in your family could be hereditary. From there, they will go over the pros and cons of genetic testing, and help you decide if it’s right for you.
If you pursue genetic testing, a lab will analyze a small blood or saliva sample to look for genetic mutations that could increase the risk of certain cancers. If your results indicate a potentially hereditary cancer, your doctors – and/or your family members’ doctors – could take steps to reduce cancer risk. These could include things like more frequent screening tests to detect cancer early, or preventive surgery.
If you have cancer now, genetic testing results can sometimes help doctors match you with a treatment that targets your specific cancer.
The cost of genetic tests has declined significantly and many are covered by insurance. The genetic counselor will help you decide which genetic tests make the most medical and financial sense. Health insurance typically covers the genetic counseling consultation, and often requires it prior to covering testing. Coverage can vary by insurance company or policy.
At Overlake, we guide you through this process with compassion and care. We know this process can make you feel anxious and scared. We take time to understand your concerns, answer all your questions and explain your results in ways that are easy to understand, so you can make the best possible decisions for you and your family.
For more information about genetic counseling at Overlake, please call us at (425) 635-3400.