Genetic Counseling

Some cancers and other types of disease have a genetic or hereditary component. At the Center for Advanced Digestive Care (CADC) at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, our genetics team focuses on hereditary gastrointestinal cancer syndromes, including Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis syndrome, among others. These conditions can significantly increase an individual’s lifetime risk of developing various gastrointestinal cancers as well as cancers in other parts of the body. The CADC’s genetics team includes a genetic counselor certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and an MD-PhD physician researcher, who is a fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics.

Before each patient’s initial genetic counseling appointment at the CADC, they are asked to complete a family history questionnaire, which will ask about their personal and family history of cancer. It may be beneficial for patients to speak with family members before their appointment in order to clarify various relatives’ cancer diagnoses and ages at diagnosis.

During the initial appointment, our genetics team will collect additional health information, review the patient’s cancer family history, and assess the patient’s chance of having a hereditary cancer syndrome. Some findings in a medical and family history that are suggestive of a hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome are:

  • Cancer diagnosis at a young age
  • Multiple family members diagnosed with the same cancer or related cancers. For instance, in families with Lynch syndrome, there may be multiple family members diagnosed with colorectal and/or endometrial cancer
  • One or more individual with multiple primary cancer diagnoses

If it is determined that a patient has a significant chance of having a hereditary cancer syndrome, then genetic testing will be offered. Genetic testing for the diagnosis of a hereditary cancer syndrome is beneficial, as it can confirm a diagnosis, provide specific cancer risks, provide guidance regarding appropriate cancer surveillance (such as the frequency of screening tests), and allow family members who may also be at risk of having the same syndrome to undergo genetic testing.

Genetic testing is voluntary, so when it is offered, our genetics team provides counseling about possible genetic diagnoses, medical management options, inheritance, and different genetic testing options in order to promote informed decisions. The team will also coordinate the genetic test and communicate the results to the patient.