Family Risk Assessment Program

Does cancer run in your family? Find out through our Family Risk Assessment Program.

Hereditary Cancer

Contact the Family Risk Assessment Program

For more information, call 484-628-9723.

The cause of cancer is unknown for some individuals. However, five to 10 percent of cancers occur because of an inherited genetic problem (mutation) which leads to what is called a hereditary cancer syndrome.

These hereditary cancer syndromes can increase risks for various cancers and can also be passed down from generation to generation through the mother’s or father’s side of the family. Knowing your family health history is one important factor in determining the likelihood of having a particular genetic mutation or likelihood of developing a disease in the future.

Risk Factors for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes

Below is a checklist of family history information that may suggest increased cancer risk:

  • Three family members with the same type of cancer or related types of cancer, such as breast and ovarian cancer, colon and uterine cancer, etc.
  • One or more family members with two primary cancers (two original tumors that develop at different sites).
  • Cancers that occur at an earlier age than usual (typically diagnosed under 50).
  • Rare cancers such as medullary thyroid cancer, male breast cancer, sarcoma (cancer of the connective tissue), etc.
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background and family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Who Can I Talk to about My Cancer Risk?

If you are concerned that your personal or family history of cancer is suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome, speak with your primary care physician, oncologist, or other healthcare provider who can refer you to our Family Cancer Risk Assessment Program.

What Should I Expect during a Genetic Counseling Appointment?

  • Review of your medical and family history.
  • Discussion of your specific chances of having a hereditary cancer syndrome.
  • Discussion of the risks and benefits and possible outcomes of genetic testing.
  • Review of insurance coverage and laws to protect against genetic discrimination.
  • With the aid of genetic test results, discussion of your specific chances of developing cancer and a tailored screening or prevention plan.
  • Review of research studies for which you may be eligible.

What is The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act?

There are state and federal laws to protect against genetic discrimination; that is, to protect people from being treated differently by an employer or health insurance company because they have a genetic predisposition to develop future disease. The federal legislation to protect against genetic discrimination is called The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The specifics of GINA, including limitations in state legislation, are best discussed with your genetics provider.

Where is the Family Cancer Risk Assessment Program Located?

The Risk Assessment Program office is located in Reading Hospital's McGlinn Cancer Institute, N-Building, Ground Floor.