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Genetic Counseling & Risk Assessment

Learn about genes and cancer, signs of hereditary cancer, genetic counseling, types of genetic tests and what results mean for you and your family.

Overview

Every person is at risk for cancer, but each person's risk is different. Many factors affect a person’s risk, including genetics, gender, age, family history, history of hormone exposure, and others. 

Cancer genetic counselors, geneticists, and risk assessment counselors are health care providers with expertise in cancer genetics, and training in the use of specialized tools and statistical data to estimate individual risk for inherited cancer. They will recommend appropriate options for screening and management of cancer risk and—when cancer has already been diagnosed— treatment or follow-up care.

The benefits derived from different screening and risk management options depend on a person's estimated cancer risk, so it is important to speak with an expert such as a geneticist or genetic counselor to get as accurate an assessment as possible.

As the cost of cancer genetic testing has gone down and the number of laboratories offering testing has increased, genetic testing is available to more people than ever. It is very important that people meet with a genetics expert before and after genetic testing to understand the testing process, benefits, costs, limitations and results. 

If you are considering genetic counseling or genetic testing and need help getting started, FORCE's Peer Navigation Program will match you with a specially trained volunteer who will provide 1:1 personalized peer support and expert reviewed resources. You can also call FORCE's Toll-free Helpline and speak with a genetics expert volunteer who can answer general questions and help you find a genetics expert near you. You can also visit this page to find a genetics expert near you. 

Updated 01/07/2018

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered