At West Michigan Cancer Center, we offer a wide range of Genetic Services from counseling and testing to research studies. Prevention and early detection make cancer treatable and beatable.

What is hereditary cancer?

Cancer is a common disease. However, some people have a greater chance of developing cancer. This may be due to gene changes that can be passed on through the family. Inherited gene changes are responsible for 5-10% of all cancers. A careful review of your personal and family history will help determine whether cancer might be hereditary in your family.

West Michigan Cancer Center offers genetic services including genetic counseling, genetic testing and disclosure and recruitment to research studies for individuals with a family history or genetic predisposition to cancer.

Are you at risk?

You and your family may benefit from a visit with the Clinical Cancer Genetic Educator if your personal or family history includes any of the following risk factors:

  • Breast, uterine or colorectal cancer
  • Cancer before the age of 50
  • Two or more different cancers in the same person (i.e., breast and ovarian; uterine and colon; colon and stomach)
  • Two or more family members who have had the same type of cancer. For example, mother and sister with breast cancer, or father and daughter with colorectal cancer
  • Same type of cancer in several generations of the family
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (Eastern or Central European) with breast or ovarian cancer
  • Polyposis (multiple polyps in the stomach or intestines)
  • Rare cancers/tumors, such as sarcoma, male breast cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, or pheochromocytoma
  • Concern about developing cancer because of family history of breast, ovarian, uterine or colon cancer

It is important to remember that simply having a family member with cancer does not immediately mean that you are in a high-risk family. The majority of cancers are considered sporadic, occurring because of a chance combination of many different factors. It is also possible to have one or more family members who have had cancer, but without a known gene alteration in the family. An appointment with the Clinical Cancer Genetic Educator will provide you with a full review of your family history.

What does the Clinical Cancer Genetic Program offer you?

Medical and Family History Review

The genetic educator will obtain information about the patient’s personal medical history, as well as a cancer-focused family tree including many generations.

Genetic Consult/Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment

The genetic educator will assess the likelihood of hereditary cancer predisposition in the family, and will discuss this assessment with the patient. When medically indicated, this will include a discussion of any relevant genetic testing.

Discussion Regarding Genetic Testing

A genetic test is the process of testing blood to

find genetic mutations that may contribute to an increased risk for some cancers. Patients who appear to be appropriate candidates for genetic testing based on the pattern of cancers in their families will be given information about the available test or tests. Testing occurs after the consult.

Individualized Cancer Screening and Prevention Recommendations

Based on the family history and/or genetic test results, each patient receives information on the methods available to reduce their risk of cancer. This may include a discussion of screening strategies, chemo-prevention and prophylactic surgery. As needed, patients are referred to high-risk screening clinics for further discussion and long-term follow-up.

Referrals to Clinical Research Trials and Research Registries

Patients may be invited to participate in appropriate clinical research trials and registries.

Insurance Coverage for Genetic Testing

As of 2006, 80-90% of insurance companies covered at least 80-100% of the cost of genetic testing, often covering the full cost. If you were previously denied coverage and it has been more than one year, or if your insurance carrier has changed, we are willing to resubmit your insurance for preauthorization. In addition, the Medicare guidelines for the coverage of genetic testing for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, Lynch Syndrome (Hereditary non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer or HNPCC) and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) have been recently updated. If you have Medicare benefits and were informed in the past that Medicare does not cover the cost of genetic testing, you may now be eligible for coverage under your Medicare policy.