Family Cancer Risk Testing

All cancer is caused by harmful changes, known as mutations, in a person's genes. Some mutations are caused by chance, lifestyle and environmental factors. Mutations are also passed down through families. Individuals with hereditary cancer risk have a much greater chance of developing cancer during their lifetime and are more likely to have relatives with the same type or other types of cancer. They may develop more than one cancer and their cancer often occurs at an earlier than average age. Both men and women can inherit and pass down genetic mutations. Even men with a family history of cancer, including breast and ovarian, should consider family cancer risk testing.

Knowing your personal and family history of cancer is the first step in determining if you might be at an increased risk for cancer. Other red flags that signal an inherited risk for cancer that make you a good candidate for family cancer risk testing include:

  • Multiple: Have you or your family member been diagnosed with more than one cancer or have there been multiple cancers on the same side of the family?
  • Young: Have you or your family members been diagnosed with cancer at a young age (less than 50 years old)?
  • Rare: Have you or your family members been diagnosed with a rare cancer such as ovarian or male breast cancer?
  • Ancestry: Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry?

How it Works:

  1. If you are a candidate, please contact your primary care provider for an appointment.
  2. Your primary care provider will confirm genetic testing is needed and refer you to Southeast Cancer Center for testing.
  3. The test involves collection of a blood sample with a special kit that is sent for analysis.
  4. Test results are delivered directly to your provider in about 2 weeks.
  5. Your provider will schedule an appointment to discuss your results and if needed, outline next steps for additional screenings and plans for managing any increased cancer risk.

Knowing if you are at increased risk for cancer empowers you to make life-saving decisions. Together with your physician, you can create a personalized plan to prevent cancer, identify cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage or prevent secondary cancers.