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Cancer Care: Genetic Counseling

Oncology-related genetic counseling

Genetic testing and counseling is an important part of cancer care. Patients who are diagnosed with breast, ovarian, colon, and/or other specific cancers before the age of 50, or have a strong family history of cancer, are advised to receive personalized information and counseling for hereditary cancer syndromes.

Some families have a gene mutation that can be passed on from parent to child, causing increased risk for particular cancers. At Mercyhealth, we provide counseling and assistance with testing for hereditary cancer syndromes.

Most patients with cancer will not have a gene mutation. Less than 10% of patients tested are found to have a gene mutation that increases their lifetime risk of certain cancers. Patients who have a gene mutation indicating they have a predisposition to cancer can be offered risk-reducing screenings or surgical options.

Family members of individuals with cancer may also undergo testing. When a gene mutation is present in an individual, each of their first-degree relatives has a 50% chance of also having that mutation. Genetic testing is recommended when certain risk factors are seen in an individual or their family history. These include:

  • Diagnosed breast, colon, intestinal, or uterine cancer before the age of 50, or ovarian cancer at any age.
  • Multiple generations affected with a combination of the above cancers.
  • A diagnosis of a rare tumor type.

Genetic testing can be a valuable tool for identifying and decreasing the risk of cancer in families with these gene mutations, and for decreasing anxiety in individuals without the gene mutation.

If you or your family have any of the risk factors discussed above, talk to your doctor about your concern and for a referral for genetic counseling.

For more information or to make an appointment, call  (815) 971-5069 in Rockford.

Cancer Care: Genetic Counseling Locations