The Genetic Counseling and Testing Department at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens provides services to individuals and families who are being evaluated for an inherited predisposition to cancer.
While the majority of cancer cases are not strongly hereditary, approximately 5-10% of cancers occur because of an inherited genetic mutation (a problem with the body’s instructions) that makes that person more likely to develop cancer.
Common examples of inherited predispositions to cancer include Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (BRCA gene mutations) and Lynch syndrome (causes an inherited risk to colorectal, uterine, and other cancers). However, there have been multiple genes linked to various types of cancers.
For whom is genetic counseling appropriate?
There are certain factors that are suggestive of hereditary cancer. If an individual has one or more ‘red flags’ for hereditary cancer in their personal or family history (regardless of whether they have ever had cancer), genetic counseling may be appropriate for them. These include, but are not limited to:
- Cancer diagnoses at young ages
- Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with the same or related cancers
- Two diagnoses of cancer in one individual
What is the role of a cancer genetic counselor?
- Meet with patients to gather clues about their personal and family medical histories
- Assess the likelihood that the cancers in the family are hereditary
- Describe what genetic testing could potentially identify a cause for the cancers
- Explore the implications of a positive result
- Provide support and guidance to those who are not sure whether they would like to have genetic testing
- Coordinate genetic testing
- Interpret results and aide in the development of a cancer risk reduction plan (i.e. discuss surveillance options, preventive surgeries, and/or medical interventions)
- Guide testing and management for other family members.
To find out if genetic counseling and/or testing may be appropriate for you, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, you may consult your doctor or call