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.

Cancer is a common disease.  Things that increase your risk are:

• Your age. The older you get the more likely you are to get cancer.

• Things in the environment, like cigarette smoke and your weight.

• Having close family members with cancer.

Most people who have family members with the same type of cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely to get cancer.

Only a small number of people inherit a change in a single gene that greatly increases their risk for cancer. These people have a hereditary cancer syndrome.

What is a Hereditary Cancer Syndrome?

A hereditary cancer syndrome is caused by a change in a single gene. This change makes it more likely that a person will have:

• Cancer before age 50.

• Two or more different cancers, like breast and ovarian cancer, or uterine and colon cancer.

• Rare cancers.

• Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings with cancer.

What can I do if I think I am at risk for a Hereditary Cancer Syndrome?

Collect your family health history.

Write down:

• The name of each family member.

• Who had cancer.

• The type of cancer they had.

• How old they were when they found out they had cancer.

• How they are related to you.

Share your family health history with your doctor.

Your doctor will use your family health history to decide:

• When you should start screening for cancer.

• The type of screening you need.

• If you should see a genetic counselor.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Prevention and early detection are the key to making cancer treatable and beatable.

If my doctor refers me for genetic counseling, what can I expect?

At the West Michigan Cancer Center, you will meet with a Genetic Counselor who will:

• Review your personal and family history.

• Talk to you about your risk for cancer.

• Tell you about things you can do to reduce your risk for cancer.

• Tell you how likely you are to have a hereditary cancer syndrome.

• Talk to you about genetic testing, and if this is right for you.

Do I have to worry about insurance coverage and genetic discrimination?

Most insurance companies cover at least a portion of the cost of genetic testing.  There are laws that protect people from genetic discrimination by both employers and health insurance companies.
Talk to your counselor if you have questions about your insurance and the laws.

For more information about the Cancer Genetics Program at the West Michigan Cancer Center, call 269.382.2500.  We have board certified Genetic Counselors to serve you.