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
- 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
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.