Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling is a service provided by Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s with the primary goal of determining whether or not an individual is at an increased risk for cancer, and if so, what cancers. During a one-on-one meeting with our certified genetic counselor, you will receive a personalized cancer risk assessment based on personal and familial history with cancer. Your counselor will also talk to you about cancer screenings, prevention and genetic testing options.

Our Genetic Counseling Programs

Breast and Ovarian Cancer

The most common and well-known genes linked to breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. These two genes are responsible for fighting off cancer, but mutations can cause them not to function properly an increase an individual’s risk for breast and ovarian cancer. In the last several years, additional genes have been found to be linked with breast and other cancers. Patients can now request to have a larger gene panel tested to help gain a more comprehensive understanding of their risks. 

Risk of Developing Breast or Ovarian Cancer 

  Breast Cancer  Ovarian Cancer 
General population of women  12 percent  1 - 2 percent 
Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation  60 - 80 percent 20 - 45 percent 

High Risk Breast Program

During every screening mammogram at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s, women are given the opportunity to learn more about their personal risk of developing breast cancer through a personalized breast cancer risk assessment. Any woman who is found to have at least a 20 percent chance of developing breast cancer may be eligible for the High Risk Breast Program. These women can meet with our genetic counselor to further discuss their breast cancer risk, the possibility of having an inherited cancer and the option for genetic testing. 

Colon and Uterine Cancer 

Every patient who is diagnosed with colon cancer at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s will automatically be screened for Lynch syndrome and is performed on the colon tumor itself. Lynch syndrome is estimated to cause three out of every 100 colon cancers. Both men and women with Lynch syndrome have approximately a 40 – 80 percent lifetime risk of developing colon cancer. For women, Lynch syndrome can cause an increased risk for ovarian and endometrial cancer.



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