What is the Cancer Genetics Program?
A family history of cancer has long been known as a strong risk factor for the development
of cancer. This has been confirmed by recent discoveries of genes that can significantly
increase an individual's risk to develop cancer.
Individuals are often confused about their genetic risks. They want to know if they
are at increased risk, what steps they can take to reduce those risks, and whether
they are candidates for genetic testing.
The Cancer Genetics Program was created to answer these questions. We provide comprehensive
cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling, personalized cancer screening recommendations
and, if appropriate, genetic testing.
What is genetic counseling?
Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with specialized graduate degrees
and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Cancer genetic counseling
involves a discussion of your personal and/or family history of cancer.
What is discussed during a genetic counseling appointment?
The initial 1.5- 2-hour meeting with a genetic counselor will focus on any questions
and concerns you have about your and your family's risk of cancer, what steps may
be taken to reduce your risk of cancer and if any genetic testing may be appropriate
to determine if you have a change in a cancer susceptibility gene.
To provide you with the most comprehensive information regarding your cancer risk
assessment and available genetic testing, the genetic counselor will be asking about
your personal and family history.
It is important to gather information about your family prior to the meeting so
that during the consultation the genetic counselor can give you an accurate risk
assessment based on your personal and family history. We will be asking you about
your FIRST-DEGREE RELATIVES (parents, siblings, children), your SECOND-DEGREE RELATIVES
(nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, half-siblings), and your THIRD-DEGREE
RELATIVES (first-cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, great-grandparents, half-aunts,
half-uncles). It is important to obtain information about both your maternal and
paternal relatives. To help in gathering this information, please see The Family
History Questionnaire for Cancer Genetic Evaluation worksheet.
We realize it may be difficult to obtain all of this information; gather as much
as you can. Please come to the meeting regardless of the detail of knowledge of
your family history. The counselor can work with you and any information you have
and you will still benefit from the meeting.
Does genetic counseling require genetic testing?
No. Genetic testing may not be useful for everyone receiving genetic counseling.
The decision to pursue testing is a personal one and entirely up to you. During
the session the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing will be discussed
to help you make that decision. For individuals who wish to proceed with genetic
testing a small blood sample will be required.
If there is a previously identified genetic mutation in your family, a copy of the
report would be needed for the initial genetic counseling session. Genetic testing
cannot be done without this information.
Who will benefit from the Cancer Genetics Program?
The Cancer Genetic Program is appropriate for men and women who are concerned about
their risk to develop cancer, regardless of family history. The program is especially
important for individuals with a personal and/or family history of:
a cancer diagnosis at an early age, especially breast, colon, or uterine diagnosed
under age 50
ovarian cancer, at any age
two or more cancers in an individual or family
a rare or unusual cancer diagnosis
breast and/or ovarian cancer at any age and are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
As more and more people see the value of genetic testing for cancer risk some people
worry that their health insurance and/or employers might use the results of these
tests to discriminate against them. Recognizing the value of genetic information
to patients and doctors, governments both at the federal and state levels have specific
legal protections in place preventing genetic discrimination.
• GINA – Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act 2008
• What GINA does not do:
- Prohibits group and individual health insurers from using a person’s genetic information
in determining eligibility or premiums
- Prohibits an insurer from requesting or requiring that a person undergo a genetic
- Prohibits employers from using a person’s genetic information in making employment
decision such as hiring, firing, job assignments, or any other terms of employment
- Prohibits employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information
about persons or their family members
- Does not cover life, disability, or long-term-care insurance
- Does not mandate coverage for any particular test or treatment
- Does not prevent healthcare providers from recommending genetic testing to their
- Does not prohibit medical underwriting based on current health status
- Does not apply to members of the military
In New York State, results of genetic tests are not to be given to any physician
or family member without the written informed consent of the person to whom such
genetics test relates, per N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 79-I.
To make an appointment, please contact us at:
Cancer Genetic Program
Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital
1090 Amsterdam Ave,
New York, NY 10026
Cancer Genetic Program
Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital
Alexandra Lucy, MS, GC
425 West 59th Street, Suite 7A
New York, NY 10019