Hereditary cancer testing can help guide medical decisions

At least 10 percent of cancer cases are caused by hereditary factors (genes) passed down from one generation of a family to the next. Knowing whether you have inherited a cancer-related gene may help you and your doctors determine a plan for early detection and prevention that's right for you.

The Cancer Risk Assessment and Counseling Program is offered at Main Line Health locations throughout the Philadelphia suburbs and is available to anyone concerned about cancer risk due to a personal or family history of cancer.

Should I get genetic testing for cancer?

To help determine whether you might benefit from cancer genetic counseling, it's helpful to consider the following questions:

  • Have you or any relatives been diagnosed with cancer at a young age (at or under age 50)?
  • Have you or any relatives been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer?
  • Have you or any relatives been diagnosed with a rare cancer such as adrenocortical, male breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer?
  • Have you or any relatives had 10 or more colorectal polyps over your lifetime?
  • Have you or any relatives tested positive for a gene mutation that increases cancer risk?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you have concerns about your inherited risk, you may wish to meet with one of our certified genetic counselors. During the consultation, we will gather more information about your personal medical history and family cancer history. If inherited risk is suspected, we will discuss the option of genetic testing with you. Cancer genetic testing requires a blood or saliva sample, which can be provided at the time of your appointment.

What to expect at your cancer genetic counseling appointment

Genetics and Risk Assessment Program consultations include:

  • An information session with a certified genetic counselor who will provide an overview of cancer risk factors, including genetics, lifestyle and environment
  • A detailed, cancer-specific evaluation of your personal and family history, including a discussion about cancer and inherited risks
  • Discussion of appropriate management guidelines
  • Coordination of genetic testing, when appropriate, and interpretation of results
  • Referral resources for follow-up and support

Is cancer risk assessment covered by insurance?

Most insurances cover the costs of cancer genetic counseling and testing. If you have concerns about whether or not your insurance will cover these services, please feel free to contact us.

The Main Line Health Genetics and Risk Assessment Program provides services for cancer genetics, cardiovascular genetics and prenatal genetics. Services are available at eight Main Line Health locations throughout the region. To learn more about genetics services, call 484.565.GENE (4363).