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Cancer Genetic Counseling

Cancer Genetic Counseling provides genetic counseling and testing to people at increased risk for hereditary cancer and helps them to make informed medical decisions based on their own personal risk assessment.

Cancer: The Family Connection

A percentage of certain cancers, including colorectal, breast, ovarian, and melanoma, have a hereditary component that can be passed from one generation to the next. If you have a family history of cancer on either your mother's or father's side and/or a personal history of cancer, you should look for the following risk factors:

  • Two or more family members on the same side of your family have had the same cancer
  • A family member was diagnosed with cancer at an unusually young age (e.g. breast cancer at 45 years or younger; colon cancer at 50 years or younger)
  • A clustering of related cancers (e.g. breast/ovarian, or colon/uterine) in the family
  • A family member carries a known genetic mutation (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2, MSH2, MLH1)

For people who want to learn more, genetic consultation is available through the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program of Yale Cancer Center.

A genetic consultation will include:

  • A detailed review of your family and medical history
  • A risk assessment of the chance that the cancer in the family are hereditary
  • A discussion of the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing
  • An individualized schedule of screening examinations and discussion about cancer prevention
  • Patients considered to be at increased risk of cancer can choose to consult with the appropriate clinic, where we can provide a personalized cancer risk reduction care plan, including medical and surgical options.
  • If needed, we can also assist with arranging consultations with other specialists or surgeons for a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention and surveillance.

Genetics and Prevention

The goals of the Smilow Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program are to provide a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to the care of patients at increased risk of cancer, to make new research advances in the field, and to improve awareness about cancer risk and prevention through education and community outreach. Our Program is a component of Yale Cancer Center, a comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute.

Our team is composed of specialists that includes geneticists, genetic counselors, physicians and nurses who work together to provide cancer risk assessment and take steps to prevent the development of cancer.

Prevention Programs

Breast Cancer Prevention

Who is at increased risk of breast cancer?

  • Strong family history of breast cancer
  • Breast biopsy with atypical cells
  • Chest radiation treatment for cancer under the age of 30
  • Genetic predisposition (inherited mutation of BRCA1/2 or other breast cancer related genes)

Colon Cancer Prevention

Who is at increased risk of colon cancer?

  • Genetic predisposition, such as an inherited mutation in Lynch Syndrome, polyposis or other colon cancer-related heritable genetic defects
  • Significant history of colon polyps
  • Strong family history of colorectal or GI cancer

Our screening guidelines for colorectal cancer consider factors specific to you, including your age, family medical history, genetics, and hereditary disorders that increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Gynecologic Oncology Prevention

Who is at increased risk of gynecologic cancer?

  • Family history of ovarian or fallopian tube cancer
  • Genetic predisposition to gynecologic cancer, such as an inherited mutation in the BRCA genes or other gynecologic cancer-related genes
  • Personal history of hormone-sensitive breast cancer who may benefit from surgery to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence

Pancreatic Cancer

Who is at increased risk of pancreas cancer?

  • Genetic predisposition to pancreatic cancer: Inherited susceptibility secondary to BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, PALB2, p16/CDKN2A (FAMMM Syndrome), Lynch Syndrome (HNPCC), and Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (STK11).
  • Hereditary Pancreatitis: Chronic pancreatitis that occurs with genetic predispositions
  • Strong family history of pancreatic cancer