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Cancer Genetics Program

The Cancer Genetics Program at St. Jude Crosson Comprehensive Cancer Center helps patients and families with a history of cancer better understand and manage their cancer risk. We provide genetic cancer risk assessment and develop individualized management plans for persons with hereditary or familial occurrences of cancer.

Cancer genetics is a dynamic and evolving field. Considered the leading edge of medicine, genetic testing and counseling shift the focus of cancer from treatment to prevention and early detection. For many hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing is available and can potentially identify the cause of cancer in the family and quantify future cancer risks for the patient and their family members.

The Cancer Genetics Program has evolved to include experts in Genetic Counseling, Medical Oncology, Surgery, and Research. Our board certified genetic counselors and physicians provide individuals with:

  • Detailed genetic counseling and cancer risk assessment
  • Facilitation and interpretation of genetic testing when appropriate
  • An individualized cancer screening and prevention plan
  • Recommendations for family members

In an effort to provide individuals with access to cancer genetics research, all of our patients are invited to participate in a Hereditary Cancer Research Registry, which is in collaboration with the City of Hope Clinical Cancer Genetics Department.

Another benefit to our program includes providing detailed consultation reports to the patient and referring physician. Patients will always be advised to return to their managing physician(s) for coordination of care after the genetic cancer risk evaluation is completed.

For more information about the Cancer Genetics Program, to refer a patient, or to schedule an appointment, please call: (714) 446-5630.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much cancer is hereditary?

Approximately 5-10 percent of individuals with cancer have a hereditary form, or predisposition to cancer. Hereditary cancer is the result of changes in genetic information that then predisposes people to certain types of cancer. These changes in the genetic information are passed on in families, from generation to generation. For many hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing is available to potentially identify the cause of cancer in the family.

Who can benefit from a cancer risk assessment?

Anyone concerned about a personal and/or family history of cancer can benefit from a hereditary cancer risk evaluation, especially individuals with a personal and/or family history of:

  • Cancer occurring younger than expected (typically before age 45-50)
  • More than one type of cancer in the same person (separate primary cancers, not an original cancer spreading to other parts of the body)
  • Two or more family members with the same type of cancer
  • A rare or unusual type of cancer

What does the genetic cancer risk assessment consist of?

Initial consultation with a Genetic Counselor
Coordination of genetic testing (if indicated) at the end of the initial consultation
Second consultation with a Genetic Counselor and physician to review test results and provide summary management recommendations for the patient and family members.

How long does it take to get genetic test results?

This depends on which genetic testing is indicated and ordered. For the most common breast cancer genetic testing, there is only one lab that performs the test and results are typically available in approximately 3 weeks. For colon cancer genetic testing and melanoma genetic testing, results are typically available in 3-6 weeks depending on the specific test ordered. For more rare hereditary cancer syndromes, genetic testing may take 6-8 weeks.

If I've already had cancer, how does genetic testing help me?

Many patients who go through genetic testing currently have or have previously had cancer. Genetic testing may provide an explanation for their cancer and may also identify if other body parts are at elevated risk for cancer and thus need to be screened more closely. Genetic test results can also help determine cancer risks for family members.

Does insurance cover genetic counseling and testing?

The majority of patients have insurance coverage for genetic counseling and testing. Our patient account specialists verify coverage prior to the patient consultation and alert the patient if genetic services are not a covered benefit. The third party laboratory that performs and bills for the genetic test will also verify coverage as a second check and confirmation of coverage.

Can insurance companies use my genetic test result against me?

No. There are federal and state laws that provide protection against this and there are no documented cases of genetic discrimination following genetic counseling or testing for cancer risk.