Genetic Testing and Counseling
Some people are at higher risk of developing of cancer because they have an inherited genetic condition. Understanding your risk of developing cancer can be an important step in making decisions around cancer prevention or about getting regular screenings that can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable.
Shenandoah Oncology, through its joint affiliation with the Winchester Medical Center/VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Genetics Counseling Clinic, provides advanced testing and counseling services for people diagnosed with cancer, as well as those with a high risk of developing cancer. Through genetic testing and counseling, we can help you learn about your inherited risk of developing such cancers as breast, gastrointestinal, uterine/ovarian and others.
Although we cannot predict whether a patient will actually develop cancer, genetic testing is available to identify those at an increased risk due to hereditary predisposition. Patients with a gene mutation may be at higher risk of developing cancer. Genetic testing will allow the patient and their physician to make changes in medical management and surveillance. In addition, negative results on genetic testing may alleviate the need for increased surveillance for some patients.
Our physicians and VCU affiliated genetic counselors are trained to navigate the testing process for patients considering genetic testing. During the testing and counseling process, we offer support to patients and their families as they are often faced with difficult decisions regarding prevention and treatment options. Deciding whether or not to have genetic testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the initial counseling session or at a future date.
Together with the VCU genetic counselors, we will provide information and support to patients and their families in several ways:
- Education about how genetics plays a part in cancer risk
- Assessment of the risk of a genetic disorder by researching family history and evaluating medical records
- Discussion of the medical, social and ethical impact of genetic testing
- Interpretation of genetic testing results and medical data
- Explanation of possible treatments or preventive measures
Is genetic counseling/testing the right choice?
Genetic testing may be considered and recommended if patients’ personal and/or family history is consistent with a hereditary pattern of cancer.
Will I face discrimination if I am found to have a genetic predisposition to cancer?
Insurance discrimination concerns may also be addressed. HIPAA and GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008) protect individuals from health insurance discrimination based on genetic test results. If genetic testing is pursued, the genetic counselor will also assist with requesting insurance coverage.
For direct information on the VCU/Massey Familial Cancer Clinic, click this link.