Hereditary Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

The Floyd and Delores Jones Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason offers hereditary cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling for many cancer syndromes such as hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (BRCA1 and BRCA2), Lynch syndrome, and many other cancer syndromes. The information can be used to educate patients and their families about their personal risks for cancer. Additionally, the information can be used to create personalized medical management plans so patients can be more proactive about future cancer screenings and can use strategies to reduce their future risks of cancer.

Who Should Have Genetic Counseling?

You may benefit from meeting with a genetic provider if you or a close family member meets any of the following criteria:

  • Diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age (before age 50)
  • A man who was diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Diagnosed with ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer
  • Diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a young age (before age 50)
  • Diagnosed with uterine cancer at a young age (before age 50)
  • Diagnosed with multiple colon polyps over their lifetime
  • Diagnosed with multiple cancer diagnoses over their lifetime (example: personal history of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer)
  • Have multiple close blood relatives with the same type of cancer or related cancers
  • Have a close family member with a cancer-related gene mutation (example: BRCA1 mutation)

What to Expect in a Genetic Counseling Appointment

The initial genetic counseling visit will last about 45-90 minutes. During that appointment, you will meet with a genetic provider who will ask you questions about your personal medical history and family medical history. The provider will discuss the background of genetic testing, the benefits and risks of testing, and the associated costs of testing. If appropriate, a blood draw or a saliva sample can be collected that day for genetic testing.

Genetic Test Results

Once the results of the genetic testing return, the genetic provider will review the results with you and discuss what the results mean for your health. If a hereditary risk for cancer is found, the provider can help create a plan for increased cancer surveillance based on the results. If no hereditary risk is found, the provider will review options for future cancer screenings based on your personal and family history.

If you have concerns about your personal cancer risks or a family history of cancer, talk with your physician about a referral to our genetic counseling services. You may also call (206) 223-6193 with questions.