Specialties

  • Genetic Counseling & Hereditary Cancer Services

  • One in three people develop cancer at some point in their lives, so it's not unusual for someone in a family to have or have had cancer of some kind. A family history of cancer does not mean you will develop cancer yourself, as inherited cancers are rare. However, when there is a family history of cancer, our Metro Denver genetic counseling services can help determine if you are at a higher risk of hereditary cancer and if there are preventative and screening steps that should be implemented. Genetic counseling  is the first step in this process and can help you determine if undergoing genetic testing  would be helpful for your individual situation.

    Cancer is more likely to be an inherited cancer and  you may benefit from genetic counseling services, if:

    • Two or more blood relatives have the same type of cancer. (Except cervical, lung or skin cancer.)
    • Breast, colon, uterine, rectal cancer was diagnosed before age 50
    • The cancer is ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer
    • The cancer is a rare type, such breast cancer in a man
    •  The cancer develops in both breasts, both kidneys 
    • A single family member has developed more than one type of cancer; for example a woman with uterine and colon cancer (except cervical, lung or skin cancer).

    At St. Anthony Hospital Hereditary Cancer Services, a genetic counseling session is approximately one hour with a board certified genetic counselor and includes:

    • Recording a detailed family history
    • Using family history information to:
    • Estimate your risk to develop cancer
    • Estimate the risk of an inherited cancer in your family
    • Discussing ways to screen for and prevent cancer based on your risks
    • Reviewing the pros and cons of genetic lab testing
    • Deciding if genetic testing is right for you, given your particular risks and concerns  
    Find answers to more of your genetic counseling questions below, or to schedule a genetic counseling appointment call 720-321-0400.
  • A family history of cancer does not mean you will develop cancer yourself.

    If family history of cancer causes you concern about your own risk for inherited cancer, you may benefit from a genetic counseling appointment. Often there are fears associated with learning about the risk of cancer, but keep in mind inherited cancer is rare and a genetic counseling session can provide valuable information for screening and prevention, as well as give you the information you need to decide whether you should consider genetic testing.

    Cancer is more likely to be inherited if:

    • Two or more blood relatives have they same type of cancer. (Except cervical, lung or skin cancer.)
    • Breast, colon, uterine, rectal cancer was diagnosed before age 50
    • The cancer is ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer
    • The cancer is a rare type, such breast cancer in a man
    • The cancer develops in both breasts, both kidneys
    • A single family member has developed more than one type of cancer; for example a woman with uterine and colon cancer (except cervical, lung or skin cancer).

    If your family history falls into one or more of these categories, you may benefit from genetic counseling. 

    How genetic counseling can help you?

    • You could share information with your relatives so they can prevent a cancer or arrange screening tests.
    • You may learn your risk for cancer is less than you expected.
    • Your doctor may want to check you for cancer earlier and more often.
    • You may want to consider ways to reduce the chance of developing cancer.

    Is genetic counseling the same as genetic testing?

    Genetic counseling is the first step towards genetic lab testing. Information gathered during genetic counseling helps determine if genetic lab testing would be helpful in your situation.

    If you and the genetic counselor determine you want to move forward with genetic testing, the counselor will arrange for the necessary lab testing.

    A genetic counseling session includes:

    • Recording a detailed family history
    • Using family history information to:
    • Estimate your risk to develop cancer
    • Estimate the risk of an inherited cancer in your family
    • Discussing ways to screen for and prevent cancer based on your risks
    • Reviewing the pros and cons of genetic lab testing
    • Deciding if genetic testing is right for you, given your particular risks and concerns

    Genetic Testing involves:

    • Blood draw
    • Some laboratories will accept cells from inside of your cheek.
    • Samples are sent to a special lab, and results take 2–4 weeks.

    What is an inherited cancer?
    Inherited cancer is caused by changes in certain genes. Genes are the instructions that our bodies use to grow and function. Genes and gene changes are passed from parents to children. A family history of cancer does not mean you will develop cancer yourself. Inherited cancers are rare. Only five to 10 percent of people with cancer have a type that is caused by inherited gene changes.

    Common hereditary cancers include:

    • Breast Cancer
    • Ovarian Cancer 
    • Uterine Cancer
    • Colon Cancer
    • Pancreatic

    Cancer is more likely to be inherited if:

    • Two or more blood relatives have they same type of cancer. (Except cervical, lung or skin cancer.)
    • Breast, colon, uterine, rectal cancer was diagnosed before age 50
    • The cancer is ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer
    • The cancer is a rare type, such breast cancer in a man
    • The cancer develops in both breasts, both kidneys
    • A single family member has developed more than one type of cancer; for example a woman with uterine and colon cancer (except cervical, lung or skin cancer).

    How can you find out if a cancer is inherited? 
    You can make a genetic counseling appointment to review your concerns and find out your risks for an inherited cancer. This appointment is a health education session with a Master's trained and board certified genetic counselor.

    Will insurance pay for genetic testing? 
    Most insurance companies will cover the cost of a genetic lab test if it will improve a person’s medical care and they have a reasonable chance of having an inherited cancer condition.

    If I have genetic testing, will I be discriminated against? 
    Federal and state laws help protect people undergoing genetic testing against health insurance discrimination and employment discrimination. The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law passed in 2008. For more information visit:geneticfairness.org/ginaresource.html or view a fact sheet:

    I already have cancer. How can genetic counseling help me? 
    Some inherited gene changes cause several types of cancer. Genetic counseling and testing may determine if you are at risk for another type of cancer in the future. You can then consider ways to prevent other cancers. Many people with cancer seek genetic counseling and testing to help their relatives. The risk of cancer for your relatives is based on the results of your genetic evaluation.

    What questions are asked in a genetic counseling appointment?

    • Have your relatives had genetic testing?
    • Which relatives have had cancer?
    • How old were they when they developed cancer?
    • What type of cancer(s) did they have?
    • Where did the cancer start in their body?