Genetic counseling in cancer, often referred to as oncogenetic counseling, is a specialized form of genetic counseling focused on individuals and families with a history of cancer or those at high risk of developing cancer due to inherited genetic factors. The primary goal of oncogenetic counseling is to assess the risk of hereditary cancer, provide information about genetic testing options, and offer support in making informed decisions about cancer prevention, screening, and management.
Key aspects of genetic counseling in cancer include:
It’s important to note that not all cases of cancer are hereditary, and not all cancers are caused by genetic mutations. In many cases, cancer occurs sporadically due to a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors. Genetic counseling is essential in identifying those at higher risk of hereditary cancer and providing them with appropriate risk management strategies. If you have a personal or family history of cancer and are concerned about the possibility of hereditary cancer risk, seeking the expertise of a certified genetic counselor or oncogenetic counselor can help clarify your risk status and guide you in making informed decisions about your health and cancer prevention measures.
During your initial consultation, your genetic counselor will ask about your personal medical history and the results of any diagnostic tests you have undergone. Next, they will look at the history of diseases in your family. During the session, the counselor will draw your family tree and include at least three generations. It will have the following components:
Genetic counselors can help determine your cancer risk based on your family’s medical history.
Furthermore, they describe which genetic tests can provide you with more knowledge about your risk levels.
You can use this information to decide whether to have genetic testing.