Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment

At Virginia Cancer Specialists, we provide comprehensive medical care and support services for people diagnosed with cancer and people with a family history of cancer. Our integrated team comprised of genetic counselors and medical oncologists have special training in inherited cancers. We are available to help you understand your level of risk and provide personalized medical recommendations based on personal and/or family history of cancer.

Around 5-10% of cancers are inherited. Inherited cancers, also known as hereditary cancers, are due to changes in a particular gene which can be passed through families and are associated with a higher lifetime chance of cancer.

Hereditary cancer risk assessment is recommended if you have:

  • Cancer under 50 years old
  • More than one type of cancer
  • A rare type of cancer (ovarian, male breast cancer, pancreatic)
  • Two or more family members diagnosed with the same type of cancer
  • A family member with an identifiable gene mutation related to cancer risk
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and a personal or family history of cancer

If the above applies for you or your family, it is important to review this information with your doctor and to schedule an appointment with our team for a more in depth discussion.

If you have an appointment with our Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment team, please fill out these forms before your visit.

The Genetics Team

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment involve?

Before your appointment, you will complete paperwork about your health and family history. It is important to provide us with any medical records including pathology or copies of genetic test results for you and/or other family members.

At the appointment, you will learn about how genetics plays a role in cancer risk and how likely your family is to have an inherited predisposition to certain cancers. You will also learn what type of testing (if any) is recommended for you as well as the risks, benefits and limitations of this testing. We will discuss the medical, social, emotional and ethical impact of genetic testing on you and your family.

Once testing is complete, we will review results with you and can personalize your screening/treatment plan. We will also discuss the impact on family members and provide appropriate resources.

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing is the process of using medical tests to look for specific changes (mutations) in a person’s genes. This is usually done by a blood or saliva sample. Fasting is not required. Most genetic testing is ordered through special health care providers and sent to specific genetic labs.

Why is Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment important?

By determining whether an individual is at an increased chance for cancer based on a gene mutation or strong family history, we can offer special options for medical management, lifestyle choices, and family planning. This includes:

  • Screening for cancers (at a younger age, more frequent intervals and/or using different technology).
  • Prevention or risk reduction of cancers (through surgery or medications).
  • Potential specialized cancer treatment.
  • Potential modification of cancer risk through diet and exercise.
  • Information regarding risks to children and other family members.

Does insurance cover the appointment and testing?

An appointment for Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment is billed to insurance the same as any appointment to a specialist. Coverage for any additional tests varies by insurance company. While there are general guidelines for coverage, several insurance companies do require pre- and post test consultation by a trained genetics professional to ensure that the appropriate test is ordered. Nearly all genetic tests require pre-authorization from the specific laboratory to which we send the testing

How much does genetic testing cost?

Most people pay $250 or less for genetic testing.

Can my insurance be affected and/or are my results confidential?

There are laws at the state and federal level (such as GINA) preventing your health insurer from using genetic results to discriminate against individuals. This means that a health insurer cannot deny coverage, drop coverage or raise rates based on the results of genetic testing.

Virginia Cancer Specialists Offices that offer Genetic Counseling

Alexandria Office

Arlington Office

Fair Oaks Office

Fairfax Office

Fairfax Office, Breast Surgical Services

Gainesville Office

Loudoun Office

Reston Office

Woodbridge Office

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