Cancer Genetics and Risk Assessment

Discovering possible risks for developing cancer (or passing the possibility of cancer down to your children) can help you make important decisions for your future. Main Line Health is here to help.

About cancer risk assessment

Main Line Health's Cancer Risk Assessment and Counseling Program is offered at multiple locations in the Philadelphia region and is available to anyone concerned about cancer risk due to a personal or family history.

It's estimated that at least 10% of cancer cases are caused by hereditary factors — or genes — passed down from one generation of a family to the next. Learning whether you inherited a cancer-related gene could help your provider create an early detection or prevention plan that's right for you.

Should you consider cancer genetic evaluation?

You may be more likely to have a cancer-related gene if any of the following apply to you or your family member(s):

  • Diagnosis of breast, colorectal, ovarian or pancreatic cancer at any age
  • Diagnosis of prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 7 or greater or with metastatic prostate cancer
  • Diagnosis of a rare cancer or tumor such as male breast, paraganglioma, pheochromocytoma or medullary thyroid cancer
  • Diagnosis of more than one type of cancer in the same person
  • A total of 10 or more colorectal polyps over one’s lifetime
  • A relative who tested positive for a gene mutation associated with cancer risk
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • Prior negative genetic testing (since testing improves over time)

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of genetic counseling and testing. Check with your insurance plan to find out what is covered.

Making sense of your personal and family history

During a genetics and risk assessment consultation, we'll gather more information about your personal medical history and family cancer history. If inherited risk is suspected, we will discuss the option of genetic testing with you.

Cancer genetic testing requires a blood or saliva sample, which can be provided at the time of your appointment.

A typical cancer risk assessment visit also includes:

  • An information session with a certified genetic counselor who provides an overview of cancer risk factors, including genetics, lifestyle and environment
  • Discussion of appropriate management guidelines
  • Coordination of genetic testing, when appropriate and interpretation of results
  • Referral resources for follow-up and support

To learn more about genetics services, call 484.565.GENE (4363).

Our locations and services offered at each