Who Could Benefit from Genetic Testing?

Why Undergo Genetic Testing?

Early detection of cancer for patients with an inherited risk involves more rigorous screening and sometimes even preventative surgery. For example, a breast MRI is recommended in addition to mammography for female patients who have an inherited genetic risk for breast cancer. Those with an inherited risk for colon cancer are likely to have colonoscopies more often to remove the polyps that can develop into cancer.

For some cancers, the gold standard for risk reduction is preventive surgery. Mastectomy and surgical removal of the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer by 90-95%. Speaking with a genetic counselor and having genetic testing done at the time of a cancer diagnosis may help you and your doctor determine the best treatment strategy for you and may help family members make decisions in the future.

When to Evaluate with Genetic Counseling or Testing

Our High Risk Cancer Program works with patients who may be considered high risk. They can help determine whether you may benefit from genetic testing and counseling. 

General “Red Flags” for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes

  • Cancer that occurs at a younger age than expected (typically under 50 years)
  • Cancer that is present in multiple generations
  • Multiple cancers in the same person

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome

  • Breast cancer before age 50
  • Triple-negative breast cancer before age 60
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • Male breast cancer at any age
  • 3 or more relatives with breast, ovarian, pancreatic and/or aggressive prostate cancer on the same side of the family
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with a personal or family history of breast, ovarian, aggressive prostate or pancreatic cancer
  • Prior negative BRCA1 or BRCA2 testing

Lynch Syndrome

  • Abnormal Lynch tumor screen
  • Two or more colon, uterine or other Lynch-related tumors* in the same person
  • 3 or more family members on the same side of the family with colon, uterine or other Lynch-related tumors*

*Lynch syndrome-related cancers include: Colon, uterine, ovarian, gastric, pancreatic, urinary tract, sebaceous tumor, and brain tumors


Other Criteria for Genetic Counseling

  • More than 20 colon polyps
  • Multiple hamartomatous or Juvenile GI polyps
  • Rare tumors such as medullary thyroid carcinoma, paragangliomas or pheochromocytomas
  • Known gene mutation in the family