Genetic Counseling

Knowledge is Power

The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center has one of the largest Genetic Counseling departments in California. We offer hereditary cancer risk counseling to help patients and families with a history of cancer, better understand and manage the risk of developing cancer through genetic risk assessment and genetic testing. Our Genetic Counselors translate complex genetic information into understandable recommendations for patients, physicians, and families.

Results of genetic testing often directly affect the course of treatment or future surveillance for a patient and their family members. Close involvement with the patient’s oncologists and surgeons fosters the timely application of such information into the patient’s care plan.

Although most cancer is not inherited, approximately 5 – 10% of people with cancer have a hereditary form or a predisposition to cancer. Hereditary cancers occur because of a change (mutation) in certain genes. Inheriting these genetic mutations can increase a person’s risk for certain types of cancer. These genetic changes can be passed down from generation to generation through the mother’s or father’s side of the family.

At the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, we understand that many factors must be considered when discussing cancer risk, including personality, coping style, and family experience with cancer. Our goal is to provide confidential information, reassurance, and support to cancer patients and their families.

We offer comprehensive genetic counseling and testing services by a certified genetic counselor to patients and families at suspected risk for hereditary cancer.

At the Cancer Center, your first appointment will include:

  • Review of personal and family history
  • Assessment of personal cancer risk
  • Discussion of the role that genes play in the development of cancer
  • Individualized prevention strategies to reduce cancer risk
  • Information about the risk, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
  • Reassurance about confidentiality
  • Support to make educated and informed decisions about genetic testing
  • Genetic testing facilitation, when appropriate

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing for various inherited forms of cancer is available. Deciding whether or not to pursue testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the initial visit or at a future date. If you choose to undergo genetic testing, a blood sample will be taken and analyzed. Results are confidential and discussed with the certified genetic counselor.

Financial Support

Most insurance plans cover the cost of genetic counseling and testing. Limited financial assistance is available. Please note: insurance companies may not use your genetic information to deny you coverage or increase your premiums. State and federal laws are in place to protect you. For further information on these laws, you may speak with the certified genetic counselor.

Indicators of Hereditary Risk

The Cancer Center’s Genetic Counseling Program aims to help patients and families with a history of cancer better understand and manage cancer risk.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, genetic counseling may be especially beneficial to you and your family:

  • Have you or any of your relatives been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50?
  • Have you or any of your relatives been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer or bilateral cancers (i.e. both breasts)?
  • Do you or any of your relatives have rare cancers, such as ovarian cancer?
  • Has the same type of cancer been diagnosed in two or more relatives?
  • Does your family have a known hereditary cancer syndrome?
  • Does your family history of cancer cause you to worry about the risk for you or your children?

To contact the Genetic Counseling department directly, please call: (805) 879-5653. 

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