WMCC Genetic Services

Please click the image for the WMCC Cancer Genetics Program brochure.

At WMCC, 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 keys to making cancer treatable and beatable.

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

At the West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood disorders, you will meet with a genetic counselor or nurse practitioner 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 some, of the cost of genetic testing.

There are laws that protect people from genetic discrimination by both employers and health insurance companies.

Are You at Risk for a Hereditary Cancer Syndrome?

Answer these questions and find out.


Yes No
Do you have a personal or family history of both breast and ovarian cancer? ___ ___
Do you or a relative have male breast cancer? ___ ___
Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry AND do you or a family member have breast or ovarian cancer? ___ ___
Do you have 3 or more relatives with the same type of cancer? ___ ___
Do you or a relative have multiple related cancers like colon cancer and uterine cancer? ___ ___
Do you or a relative have 10 or more colon polyps? ___ ___
Do you have a close relative with a known gene mutation? ___ ___

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be more likely to get cancer.  Talk to your doctor to find out more.

For more information about the Cancer Genetics Program at WMCC, call 269-382-2500.  We have two board certified genetic counselors on staff to serve you.