About Cancer Genetic Counseling

Inherited Cancer

People with a family history of cancer have a higher risk (chances) 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 and help find ways to reduce it
  • Suggest a cancer screening schedule
  • Find ways to reduce your cancer risk (your chances of getting cancer)
  • Interpret the results of genetic testing
  • Provide information about research programs and studies at HCI

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.

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 enviroment. People who are eligible can learn ways to detect, prevent, or manage cancer through our education, screening, and risk modeling services.

High Risk GI Clinic

Individuals who have a higher chance to develop gastrointestinal cancers due to genetic mutations or a family history of cancer may need tailored cancer screening and management plans. If you're concerned about your risk for colon, stomach, pancreas, or other GI cancers, call 801-587-9555 for more information.

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

Individuals with genetic conditions that increase their risk for kidney cancer, such as VHL, Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD), hereditary leiomyomatosis, and renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC). Call 801-587-9555 to schedule an appointment or email vhlclinic@hci.utah.edu if you have questions.

Contact Us

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