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Cancer Genetics & Prevention

If you’re concerned about a family history of cancer, learn your personal risk for developing the disease and create a personalized plan for preventive care at Mount Auburn Hospital’s Cancer Genetics & Prevention Program.

Why Consider Genetic Testing?

Genetic tests can reveal that you have certain gene mutations, or abnormal changes, that increase your risk of getting cancer. When you know your risk, you and your doctor can develop a care plan to lower it or help you detect the disease early, when it’s easier to treat.

Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

If you’ve inherited the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations you may be at a higher risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. These mutations have also been linked with an increased risk of other cancers, including fallopian tube, pancreatic and prostate cancers. You may benefit from genetic testing if you or a family member:

  • Is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage 
  • Has experienced
  • Atypical hyperplasia and in-situ carcinoma of the breast
  • Bilateral breast cancer (cancer in both breasts)
  • Breast cancer before age 50
  • Male breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • More than one type of cancer
  • Has more than two relatives with the same cancer

You also may want to consider genetic testing if a family member tests positive for the BRACA1 or BRCA2 genetic alternations

Genetic Testing for Colorectal (Colon) Cancer

If you’ve inherited certain gene mutations, you may be at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. You may benefit from genetic testing if you or a family member has experienced:

  • Colon cancer before age 50
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Tubular adenoma or adenomatous polyps

You also may want to consider genetic testing if a family member tests positive for one of the genetic alterations associated with colorectal cancer

What To Expect at Your Appointment

At your first appointment, you’ll meet with a genetic counselor or doctor to discuss a wide range of issues related to genetic testing, including:

  • Your risk of developing certain types of cancer
  • Genetic tests currently available
  • The privacy of your test results
  • Emotional and social issues related to your test results
  • Ways to prevent cancer and monitor your health
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment options

After your discussion, you may choose to get genetic testing at your appointment, at a later date, or not at all.

Learning Your Test Results

If you decide to pursue genetic testing, your provider will collect a blood sample or use a cotton swab to collect cells from inside your mouth. The samples will go to lab for testing. Before you leave, you’ll schedule a follow-up appointment. At this appointment, you’ll meet with our team learn your test results and discuss next steps.

Long-Term Follow-Up Care

Whatever your results of your genetic test, you can count on us to provide long-term follow-up care and help you reduce your cancer risk. Your physician will make recommendations tailored to you. They may include:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise
  • More frequent or additional types of cancer screenings
  • Medications to prevent breast cancer
  • Preventive surgery

Insurance May Cover Genetic Testing

Many major insurance companies provide coverage for genetic testing if you meet certain medical criteria. Check with your provider to see what’s included in your plan.

Ask for a Referral

You’ll need a physician’s referral for most services in our Cancer Genetics & Prevention Program. For more information, talk to your doctor or call us at 617-492-0714.

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