When it comes to cancer risk, knowledge is power.
The Hereditary Risk Assessment Program addresses concerns that you, your family, or your medical providers may have regarding the risk of developing cancer. Our comprehensive services are provided by Connecticut licensed, board certified Genetic Counselors who use the latest advances in the genetics of cancer to understand cancer risk.
If you or someone in your family has had cancer, you may be concerned about the risk of developing cancer. Everyone has some risk of cancer. If you have a close family member with cancer, your risk may be higher than average. In certain families, high cancer risk can be hereditary (passed down from generation to generation). Knowing about your cancer risk allows you to: (1) take steps to lower your cancer risk and (2) determine if you qualify for specialized cancer screening.
Cancer genetic counseling begins with obtaining detailed information about cancer risk factors including your family history, environmental exposures, and lifestyle details. Our genetic counselors evaluate families with ALL types of cancers. Cancer genetic counselors carefully assess your history and you will have the opportunity to discuss the following:
- your personal cancer risks
- the latest advances in cancer genetics
- the chances of a hereditary cancer gene mutation in your family
- if genetic testing may be right for you or a family member
- the benefits and limitations of genetic testing
- what each type of result could mean for you and your family members
- if you and your family members qualify for specialized cancer screening
- steps you and your family members can take to lower your cancer risk
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, cancer genetic counseling may be helpful to you and your family.
- Do you have questions about your cancer risk or cancer risk for your children/family members?
- Are you are considering cancer genetic testing?
- Did you previously have cancer genetic testing and would like a more detailed discussion about the meaning of your results?
- Do you have a personal and/or family history that suggests increased cancer risk?
- Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with cancer at an early age (for example: breast, colon, uterine, or kidney cancer before age 50)?
- Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with a rare cancer type (for example: ovarian, pancreatic, male breast, or metastatic prostate cancer)?
- Do you have more than one blood relative with the same type of cancer (for example: mother and mother’s sister with breast cancer)?
- Have you or a close relative had more than one cancer, either different types of cancer or 2 cancers in the same body part (for example: sister with colon cancer and uterine cancer, or father with 2 kidney cancers)?
- Do you have a family member with an inherited gene mutation that causes increased cancer risk?
- Do you have anxiety about cancer, even without any knowledge of increased risk?
Cancer Genetics Resources
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
Hereditary Breast and/or Ovarian Cancer Resources
Hereditary Colon Cancer Resources
Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes. Some people are born with changes, called mutations, in these genes. 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish individuals have a BRCA1/2 gene mutation.
Mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes raise a person’s risk for developing cancer in their lifetime. Cancer risks can be higher for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and possibly others. BRCA mutation carriers can also be at higher risk to have cancer at younger ages. If your mother or father has a BRCA1/2 gene mutation, you have a 50% chance of having the same gene mutation.
You can learn more about hereditary cancer risk assessment among persons of Jewish ancestry by watching the presentation below, hosted by two of Middlesex Health's Licensed Genetic Counselors.
Your Care Team
Learn more about Lynch Syndrome and how it can impact risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and other cancers. Featuring Middlesex Health genetic counselors Amanda Hamblett, CGC, MS and Kelly Watrous, CGC, MS and colorectal surgeon J. Michael Parker, MD.
Written by Lori Miller Kase | Photograph by Tony Bacewicz
Seasons Magazine | July 2019