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A cancer genetic counselor meets with individuals and families to help them understand if they have a higher risk of cancer due to a hereditary cancer condition.  

Most cancers occur due to non-inherited causes, such as changes with increasing age, and exposures such as tobacco use. About 10% of all cancers are hereditary. In families with hereditary cancer risk for specific cancers. Families with hereditary risk can make informed medical decisions, to optimize cancer prevention and early detection.

The Minnesota Genetic Counselor Association

There are several reasons you may see a cancer genetic counselor:

To understand cancer risks for you and your relatives

To discuss personalized cancer screening and prevention recommendations

To guide surgical and chemotherapy decisions for a cancer diagnosis.

To discuss available genetic testing options

Specific cancer histories signal that a cancer genetic counselor appointment may be appropriate. These include a personal and/or family history of:

  • Cancer occurring at younger ages (such as breast, colon or uterine cancer before age 50)

  • Two or more separate cancers in one individual

  • Pattern of multiple close relatives diagnosed with cancers

  • Pattern of cancers that fits a known inherited cause (e.g. breast and ovarian cancers linked with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, or colon and uterine cancers linked with Lynch syndrome)

  • Presence of a specific cancer: ovarian, male breast cancer, adrenal cortical carcinoma, pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma

Find out more about how a genetic counselor could help you or your family.

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