Board-certified genetic counselors are trained to identify high-risk families and help them understand their risk of developing cancer as well as their options for prevention, early detection, and treatment.
One of the main reasons to seek genetic counseling is to determine if you or your family members are at an increased risk of cancer. If it is determined there is an increased risk of cancer, certain preventive measures may be undertaken to reduce your risk of actually developing the disease. Further, discovering that you or your family members do not have an increased risk of cancer can relieve anxiety and avoid unnecessary intensive monitoring strategies.
These video clips explain the importance of understanding your risk for hereditary cancer:
Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Prevention Recommendations
Lynch Syndrome: Cancer Prevention Recommendations
Preparing for Your Appointment
It’s important to gather as much information about your own medical history as possible. If available, bring a copy of your medical records to your appointment.
It’s also important to discuss your family history with your relatives to make sure you are aware of who in the family had cancer, what type of cancer they had, how old they were when they were diagnosed, specific treatments, etc. If other relatives have had genetic testing, it’s useful to have a copy of their results to make sure appropriate testing is ordered for you.
Prior to a genetic risk assessment at UT Southwestern, you will be asked to fill out our online questionnaire called CancerGene Connect.This will help your genetic counselor have the maximum information about your personal medical history and any family history of cancer prior to the appointment and also allow the genetic counselor to spend more time evaluating and discussing your particular concerns during the appointment.
During a genetic risk assessment, a complete family history will be obtained. Key medical records are reviewed to document the history. The basis for how cancer can occur and be inherited will be discussed. A cancer risk analysis and calculation will be done. You will be informed about the advantages and limitations of genetic testing. If indicated, genetic testing may be performed after the session. All of the information discussed will be documented in a letter that will be sent to you following the visit.
Gathering Family Medical History
Learn more about our genetic counseling team.