A normal cell may become a cancer cell after a series of gene changes occur. Some gene changes that increase the risk of cancer are inherited, or passed on, from parent to child. These changes are present at birth in all cells of the body. It is uncommon for cancer to run in a family. However, certain types of cancer do occur more often in some families than in the rest of the population. These include: Melanoma, Breast, Ovary, Prostate, and Colon cancer.
If you or someone in your family has had cancer, and you are concerned about the risk of a cancer diagnosis for you or a loved one, you may decide to consider genetic testing.
The first step will be to work with a Genetic Counselor to review your personal and family health history as well as any additional pertinent medical records. Once the review of information has been made, a "pedigree" is prepared on your family’s history of cancer. The Counselor, working as part of your healthcare team, helps identify if you or your family is at risk for cancer, interprets information about which type(s) of cancer you are at risk for and helps you review your options with you and your physician. Based on your discussion, you may or may not decide to proceed with genetic testing. To get more information about genetic counseling, please call (510) 655-4000 x2033.
If you decide to go ahead with testing, the Genetic Counselor helps you schedule the testing. Once the test results have been returned, you will meet with the Genetic Counselor and your doctor again to discuss your options.Always discuss your thoughts and concerns about the risk of a cancer diagnosis with your physician. Use our Find a Doctor tool to find a physician at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.