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Cancer Genetic Risk Assessment

Inherited genetic mutations play a major role in about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers, possibly more. Researchers have associated pathogenic mutations in specific genes within our DNA in more than 50 hereditary cancer syndromes. These syndromes may predispose a person to developing cancer. At Cancer Care Northwest we offer comprehensive Cancer Genetic Risk Assessment (CGRA) and genetic testing to identify high-risk patients and provide personalized care plans.

Genetic testing can help determine if you have an increased risk for certain types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colorectal, endometrial (uterine cancer), stomach cancer, ureter/renal pelvis, biliary tract, small bowel, pancreas, brain, or sebaceous adenomas. Knowing your risk can prevent cancer or detect disease when it is more curable.

If you have a personal history of breast, ovarian, colon, or pancreatic or other cancers, and/or a strong family history of cancer, you should consider a cancer genetic risk assessment at Cancer Care Northwest. Individuals with a genetic predisposition have a far greater chance of developing certain cancers within their lifetime, typically at an earlier age of onset. Please speak to your provider about whether cancer genetic risk assessment is right for you.

There are multiple benefits to undergoing a cancer genetic risk assessment, including:

  1. Relief from uncertainty
  2. Understand your cancer risk
  3. Ability to make informed medical and lifestyle decisions
  4. Allow for early detection of cancer
  5. If you already have cancer, knowing you carry a hereditary gene variation may guide the treatment of your cancer
  6. Provide helpful information to other family members

Consequently, there are also risks to undergoing a cancer genetic risk assessment, including:

  1. Difficulty coping with knowledge of cancer risk
  2. Potential impact on family and personal relationships
  3. Possible concerns about the privacy of the results
  4. Possible out of pocket expense (insurance coverage can vary, please consult with your provider)
    • The maximum out of pocket cost is $250, even without insurance, but oftentimes less

A comprehensive cancer genetic risk assessment at Cancer Care Northwest may include the following:

  1. Detailed Risk Assessment: During this appointment, our cancer genetic risk assessment provider will gather a detailed overview of your personal medical history, family medical history, lifestyle, and environmental exposures to determine your risk of developing cancer, the appropriate medical management, and if genetic testing is recommended to identify your cancer risk.
  2. Genetic Testing: Genetic testing is a medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins (usually through a blood sample) to determine your risk for cancer. A small blood sample is analyzed, or in rare cases, tissue samples may be required, looking for specific, inheritable, disease-related gene mutations that may increase the risk of certain cancers.
  3. Counseling: Following the testing, you’ll receive comprehensive counseling based on your test results and family history. For those who are found to have a gene mutation or are at a higher risk of cancer, options for next steps are discussed.
  4. Next steps: If you have a gene mutation and a higher risk of cancer, we’ll discuss your prevention options, which can include surveillance or prevention strategies. A patient’s choice is strictly a personal decision. Cancer genetic risk assessment and testing provide the tools you need to make informed decisions.
  5. Family Risk: If you test positive for a mutation, we encourage your other family members to be tested as well. The information from cancer genetic risk assessment testing enables family members to make decisions that could save their lives. It also can tell family members that they do not have the mutated gene.

Cancer Care Northwest’s CGRA Program is led by Jennifer Lazzara, DNP, ARNP, CGRA, a nurse practitioner and certified genetic risk assessment provider.