The majority of cancers happen by chance: only 5 percent to 10 percent are hereditary. But, if you have one or more family members affected by cancer, you may wonder if your genetic makeup has increased your risk for the disease.
CHI Saint Joseph Health provides genetic counseling to individuals or families with hereditary concerns. When appropriate, we also coordinate cancer genetic testing, help interpret the results and discuss ways to help prevent cancer or detect it early, when it’s most treatable.
We all have many genes that wrok to protect our bodies from cancer. Hereditary cancer, or cancer that is passed down through a family, is caused by a mutation in one of these genes that stops it from working properly. A person with a hereditary cancer mutation has lost some of their natural cancer protection and has a higher chance to develop cancer over their lifetime.
You may benefit from genetic testing if you have a personal or family history of:
A licensed CHI Saint Joseph Health genetic counselor can help you understand your risk for hereditary cancer syndromes by:
After a thorough discussion with your genetic counselor, you can decide if genetic testing is right for you. For an individual who has already been diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing may help doctors make the best treatment plan or take proactive steps against developing a second cancer.
For those who have not had cancer, the main goal of genetic testing is to help you and your family members be proactive against cancer. This is done through early or more frequent cancer screenings to detect any abnormalities as soon as possible, or through taking steps to prevent cancer altogether. If a hereditary cancer mutation is identified, genetic testing is offered to family members to determine if others are at increased risk and allow them to be proactive as well.
Genetic testing is usually done on a small blood sample. Sometimes saliva, cells from inside the cheek, or skin cells are used instead. The sample is then sent to a specialized laboratory, which looks for specific inherited changes (mutations) in your genes. Most insurance companies will cover all or a portion of the cost of testing, though individual plans vary.
Not all genetic changes are harmful and no genetic test can say whether you will develop cancer for sure. Your genetic counselor will review your results with you in detail so that you understand your cancer risk and the steps you can take to prevent or catch cancer early.
The decision to have genetic counseling and/or testing is an individual one. If you feel you may be at risk for hereditary cancer, contact us at 844-835-GENE (4363) or email our genetic counselors.
We offer in-person cancer genetic counseling in our Resource Center suite in Lexington and also offer telephone and telemedicine consultations throughout Central Kentucky.
CHI Saint Joseph Health Resource Center
A Service of Saint Joseph East
3470 Blazer Parkway, Suite 230
Lexington, KY 40509
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