Hereditary cancer conditions increase the risk of developing cancer and possibly passing it on. Determining whether you have one of these conditions is important because screening and sometimes surgery can help prevent cancer. In the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, medical genetics experts review medical and family histories to identify hereditary cancer conditions. We explain health risks, and offer education, guidance and support for the entire family.

When to consider genetic counseling

A cancer genetics evaluation may be recommended if one or more of the following apply to you or a relative:

  • Breast, colon or another cancer before age 50
  • Several family generations with the same or related cancers (e.g., breast and ovarian cancer, or colon and uterine cancers)
  • Multiple cancers in one individual
  • Breast or ovarian cancer in women of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent
  • Identification of a BRCA1, BRCA2 or other gene mutation
  • 10 or more colon polyps
  • A rare tumor (e.g., male breast cancer, paraganglioma or medullary thyroid cancer) 12-GMI-754

Preparing for your appointment

It helps to gather family health history information before the appointment by asking:

  • Were any family members diagnosed with cancer, and how are they related?
  • What type of cancer did each relative have?
  • At what age was each relative diagnosed?
  • Have any relatives had genetic testing?
  • How old are our relatives? At what age have other relatives died, and what was the cause?

Creating a personalized plan

Our medical geneticists and genetic counselors provide education about the diagnosis and discuss options for genetic testing, if appropriate. We work with patients’ physicians and Cleveland Clinic specialists, if needed, to tailor a management plan.

Scheduling a genetics evaluation

Ask your doctor if a referral to genetic counseling is right for you. If you do not have a primary care provider, please call us to learn about other options for scheduling an appointment.

For an appointment or information, call Cleveland Clinic Genomic Medicine Institute’s Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare at 216.636.1768 or 800.998.4785. If your doctor is not part of the Cleveland Clinic health system, please have relevant medical records faxed to 216.445.6935.