Cancer Risk Assessment Program
If you or a family member were previously diagnosed with cancer, you may worry that you or your family are at greater risk for developing the disease. A family cancer risk assessment may help explain why the cancer originally developed and identify the risks of generating other types of cancer. It may also:
Aid early detection
The Family Cancer Risk Assessment Program at New York Methodist Hospital offers comprehensive cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling for you and your family.
For more information on the risk assessment, please call
How is Cancer Inherited?
What is a Family Cancer Risk Assessment?
Who Can Benefit from the Family Cancer Risk Assessment?
Can I Have Genetic Counseling Without Genetic Testing?
Does Insurance Cover Genetic Counseling and Testing?
Cancer Prevention and Screening
Genetic information is inherited from both parents. This information determines how our bodies grow and function. Individual units of genetic information are genes. Sometimes a change that occurs in a gene prevents it from working correctly. Such a change is a mutation. Some genes function to keep the body from developing cancer. If a person has a mutation in a cancer protection gene, the gene cannot work properly. The person then has a higher risk of developing cancer.
Specific cancer genes are linked to several types of cancer. Only a small percentage of cancers are hereditary; that is, they involve an inherited gene mutation.
The NYM genetic team evaluates personal and family medical histories. After the review, the counselor explains the risks that you and other family members may have for certain types of cancer and will present options for the following:
- Cancer prevention
Early cancer detection
If you are considering genetic testing, an NYM counselor will explain the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of the test. The counselor will also guide you through the testing process and interpret the test results as they relate to you and your family.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, knowing that you have an altered gene may help explain why the cancer developed and may suggest the risk of developing related cancers. It may also help determine your ongoing treatment strategy. If you have not been diagnosed with cancer, knowing that you carry an altered cancer gene can help you and your doctor determine prevention and surveillance methods.
Genetic testing involves taking a blood sample and examining a person's DNA. This determines whether there is an altered gene that predisposes an individual to developing certain types of cancer.
The Family Cancer Risk Assessment Program is helpful to men and women with a personal or family history (on the mother's or father's side) of:
- A cancer diagnosis before age 50, such as breast, ovarian, uterine, or colon cancer
An ovarian cancer diagnosis at any age
A breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis in an individual of Ashkenazi Jewish descent
More than 10 colon polyps
Several relatives who were diagnosed with colon cancer
Several relatives who were diagnosed with cancer
More than one cancer diagnosis in the same individual, or multiple primary cancers
A rare or unusual cancer diagnosis
A known cancer gene mutation or syndrome in the family
Yes. The decision to pursue genetic testing is a personal one. Furthermore, genetic testing may not be useful for everyone receiving a cancer risk assessment.
Insurers generally cover all or part of these services. Because each insurance company is different, we recommend that you check directly with your insurer. If you need help with insurance reimbursement, the Family Cancer Risk Assessment Program will assist you.
Submitting the genetic counseling bill to an insurance company poses very little risk of insurance discrimination. Many states have laws protecting against insurance discrimination and federal laws also exist.
For more information on the risk assessment, please call 718.780.5256.
Some causes of cancer, notably those involving lifestyle choices, such as smoking and diet, are avoidable. Many cancers discovered at an early stage are successfully treated. To spread information about cancer prevention and early discovery, members of the New York Methodist cancer education team lead community education programs. Brochures on various cancer-related topics are available from the Center on request.
For more information on prevention and screening, please call 718.780.5240.
Learn more about Cancer Prevention & Screening.