Cancer Genetics Screening Program
The Cancer Genetics Screening Program provides genetic counseling and testing to individuals who may be at increased risk of cancer due to a personal history of cancer, family history of cancer or an underlying genetic condition.
The Cancer Genetics Screening Program is part of the Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center. The goal of the program is to provide personalized counseling regarding cancer risk, cancer genetics, genetic testing, early detection, improved cancer management and possible risk reduction.
Gene Mutations and CancerCancer — an uncontrolled growth of cells — may be caused by many things. Researchers are working to understand how normal cells, through genetic changes (mutations), turn into cancerous cells.
A mutation is a change of the DNA that is within a gene. Two types of gene mutations can cause cancer:
- Random gene mutations — most cancer is the result of random gene mutations that develop during a person’s life. A mutation may occur when cells are dividing or may be due to environmental factors, such as radiation or chemicals. These types of mutations are not passed on to the next generation.
- Inherited gene mutations — these mutations are passed down from generation to generation (inherited cancer predisposition). If a person is born with an inherited cancer gene, he or she has a higher risk of developing cancer, and the mutation can be passed to their children. About 5 percent to 10 percent of all cancers are due to a hereditary factor.
It’s not certain that people who inherit a known cancer susceptibility gene will actually get cancer. However, they have a much higher risk of developing cancer compared to the general population. In other words, people don’t inherit cancer from their families; they inherit an increased risk of developing cancer.
Many genes have been identified that play a role in certain cancers. For example, researchers have discovered genes that can contribute to the development of some forms of breast, ovarian, colorectal, uterus (endometrium), thyroid and pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
To help you understand your family history of cancer, the Cancer Genetics Screening Program at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin offers:
- Extensive review of personal and family health history
- Assessment of cancer risk and the likelihood of an inherited cancer susceptibility condition in the family
- Explanation of hereditary cancer and cancer risks
- Provide information regarding the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing
- Coordination and interpretation of genetic tests
- Working with you and your health care team to develop a personalized screening and management plan
Who May Benefit FromYou may benefit from a cancer genetic screening if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below. When answering these questions, please consider both your mother’s and father’s side of the family.
Cancer Genetic Screening?
- Have several of your relatives had cancer, including cancers of the breast, ovary, skin, prostate, pancreas, thyroid, uterus (endometrium) or colon?
- Have you or a relative developed cancer before the age of 50?
- Have you or a family member had an unusual or rare type of cancer, such as male breast cancer?
- Have you or a relative had more than one type of cancer, such as breast and ovarian cancer or cancer in both breasts?
- Are you concerned about your risk for developing cancer?
- Have you wondered whether you should have genetic testing for cancer genes?
Last Review Date: May 17, 2013
Online Editor(s): Shannon Krause