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Cancer Genetic Counseling Program

A cancer diagnosis is quickly followed by a number of questions: How did this happen to me? If my mother had cancer, does this mean my cancer is hereditary? Could my children also be at risk? Guiding newly diagnosed individuals through the myriad of questions that come with cancer is one goal of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program.

In addition to determining an individual's risk of cancer, genetic counselors and geneticists can also determine whether family members may be at increased risk, signaling a possible need for improved vigilance in screening. By raising awareness of cancer risk, genetic counseling can help individuals by promoting the importance of early detection and cancer prevention.

Who is susceptible to hereditary cancer?

Hereditary cancer, or those cancers that may have been passed from one family member to another, are more likely to be found in individuals with the following family or individual health history:

  • Cancer diagnosed at a young age (such as breast or colon cancer before age 50); 
  • Multiple close family members with either the same type of cancer or related cancers (such as breast and ovarian cancer or colon and uterine cancer); 
  • Two or more primary cancer diagnoses in the same individual; or 
  • Certain rare cancers or tumors (such as male breast cancer or certain types of thyroid cancer or kidney cancer).

Individuals, or their family members, who meet the criteria outlined above may benefit from genetic counseling. Through counseling, it can be determined whether genetic testing is appropriate for patients and their families.

How is genetic testing conducted?

Genetic counseling is the beginning step in exploring a person's family health history. The genetic counselor will create a complete picture of cancer risk through family history analysis and risk assessment. If a person decides to move forward with genetic testing, the team will facilitate sending a sample (usually blood) to a laboratory for analysis. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to discuss the results.

Does insurance cover this service?

Many insurance companies will pay for all or a portion of genetic counseling and subsequent genetic testing. The genetic counselor will discuss the likelihood of insurance coverage for genetic testing and options for obtaining pre-certification.

Federal law (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) prohibits discrimination based on genetic information in relation to health insurance and employment, particularly in regard to premium increases or coverage denial.

Scheduling an appointment

To arrange for a genetic counseling appointment, please call (502) 896-3008. The following information will be needed from the physician's office prior to scheduling an appointment: 

  • Referral for genetic counseling
  • Your contact and insurance information
  • Relevant medical history
  • Pathology reports (if there is a cancer diagnosis) and any other pertinent information.

The individual requesting an appointment will then be contacted within two business days to set up a convenient time to meet with the genetic counselor and/or geneticist.

For more information, call (502) 896-3008.