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About Cancer Genetic Counseling

Inherited Cancer

People with a family history of cancer have a higher risk (chance) of getting cancer. Genetic changes are called mutations. Mutations that cause higher cancer risk can pass through families.

Only five to 10 percent of all cancers are caused by inherited mutations.

Family Cancer Assessment Clinic

The Family Cancer Assessment Clinic (FCAC) at Huntsman Cancer Institute is a team of doctors and genetic counselors. They help patients find out if genes play a role in their personal or family health history.

Genetic Counseling Services

The FCAC offers these services, based on your personal and family health history:

  • Assess your cancer risk
  • Find ways to reduce your cancer risk (your chance of getting cancer)
  • Suggest a cancer screening schedule
  • Interpret the results of genetic testing
  • Provide information about research programs and studies at Huntsman Cancer Institute

We also offer patients virtual genetic counseling over video connections or by telephone. This convenient service removes the hassle and cost of travel and extends our reach to people who live throughout the Mountain West. Learn more about our TeleGenetics Service.

Risk Factors

Signs of Inherited Risk Factors

Here are some signs that a family may have inherited mutations:

  • Several members on the same side of the family have the same kind of cancer
  • Family members get cancer at an early age such as breast, colon, or uterine cancer before age 50
  • Family members have more than one kind of cancer:
    • Melanoma and pancreatic cancer
    • Breast and ovarian cancer
    • Colon and uterine cancer
  • There are rare cancers in the family, including the following:
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Male breast cancer

Genetic Testing for Cancer

Genetic testing looks for gene mutations that raise a person's chances of getting cancer.

How does the test work?

Genetic testing starts with a sample of your blood or saliva. We send your sample to a laboratory. The test looks for differences in your genes compared to the general population. These differences may be mutations that increase your odds of getting cancer.

Results come back to the Family Cancer Assessment Clinic (FCAC) in two to four weeks. You will meet with a genetic counselor to discuss what the results mean.

Is genetic testing recommended for everyone?

Genetic testing is not right for everyone. Genetic counselors and doctors can talk to you about whether genetic testing could be helpful. If your family has any of the signs above, you should consider genetic testing. You always have the final decision about whether to be tested.

Can I afford genetic testing?

The cost of genetic testing varies, but most patients pay $0–$250 out of pocket when covered by insurance. Patient assistance programs and self-pay rates are available for uninsured or underinsured individuals. Learn more about the cost of genetic testing and counseling.

High Risk Services

Research teams at Huntsman Cancer Institute want to learn how inherited factors, genetics, behaviors, and the environment may lead to different types of cancer. Teams include physicians, genetic counselors, research coordinators, and support personnel.

We offer studies and specialty services for people at high risk of cancer due to genetic factors, health behaviors, and the environment. People who are eligible can learn ways to detect, prevent, or manage cancer through our education, screening, and risk modeling services.

Breast Cancer Risk Clinic

We see women who may have a higher chance of breast or ovarian cancer due to genetic mutations or family history. Our services include options to screen for and help detect breast cancer early.

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High Risk GI Clinic

People who have a higher chance of gastrointestinal cancers due to genetic mutations or a family history may need tailored cancer screening and management plans. This clinic is for individuals and their families concerned about their risk for colon, stomach, pancreas, or other GI cancers.

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Pancreatic Cancer Clinic

We offer people with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer information about screening tools and guidelines. We also provide access to research studies that may help detect cancer of the pancreas early.

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Paraganglioma Clinic

Paragangliomas are rare tumors in the peripheral nervous system or adrenal glands. This clinic is for children and adults at risk for paragangliomas and other tumors due to inherited mutations in the SDHx genes.

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Pediatric and Rare Tumor Clinic

This clinic focuses on hereditary syndromes that cause an increased risk for cancer and tumors in children and adults. We help families understand genetic test results and develop cancer screening plans.

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Prostate Cancer Risk Clinic

This clinic is for men who may be at risk for prostate cancer due to family history or genetic mutations, including BRCA. We help patients create personal screening plans and schedule any follow-up.

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RiSE Clinic

The Risk Reduction Surgery Evaluate (RiSE) Clinic is for women who have visited the Breast Cancer Risk Clinic and would like to learn about the surgery options that can help reduce cancer risk.

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Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) and High Risk Renal Clinic

This clinic is for people with genetic conditions that increase risk for kidney cancer such as VHL, Birt-Hogg-Dube, and hereditary leiomyomatosis. We create personal screening plans and help schedule follow-up care.

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Studies and Research

Breast Cancer Family Registry

One of six National Cancer Institute-funded breast cancer registries. For more information, contact Karen O'Toole at Karen.O' or 801-581-8795.

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Cancer Genetics Study

A resource for patients, families, health professionals, and researchers, we help find and recruit people who may be at higher risk for cancer because of inherited genetic factors.

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Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry

For patients and families with a strong history of cancers in the stomach, small bowel, pancreas, colon, or rectum.

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Legacy Girls Study

The LEGACY Girls Study is a five-year group study that looks at how health behaviors, environment, and diet effect growth in girls aged 6 to 13 years of age.

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Research on Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

We are recruiting patients at high risk of pancreatic cancer to take part in these research studies: PanFAM and Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection (PRECEDE) Consortium. These studies focus on trying to find pancreas cancer early.

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Our Experts

Contact Us

Phone: 801-587-9555
Fax: 801-587-1149
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Mountain Time