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Medical genetics and cancer

​About 5-10 percent of cancers are related to a hereditary cancer syndrome caused by a genetic mutation.

This results in a significantly higher risk to develop certain types of cancer as compared to the general population.

It is important to identify families that have a hereditary cancer syndrome because if an individual has a greater-than-average risk to develop cancer, their medical management can be personalized to better manage these risks.

This can be done through increased screening and earlier detection of cancer, risk reducing options, and sometimes the opportunity to participate in research.

Marshfield Clinic Health System's Medical Genetic Services has genetic counselors that work in collaboration with providers throughout the Health System to identify individuals who may benefit from a hereditary cancer risk assessment.

Individuals with these risk factors may benefit from a hereditary risk assessment:

  • Breast, uterine or colon cancer diagnosed at age 50 or younger
  • Multiple close relatives, on the same side of the family, who have been diagnosed with cancer
  • More than one primary cancer in the same individual, like bilateral breast cancer, or a primary colon cancer and a primary stomach cancer)
  • A rare type of cancer like ovarian, male breast or metastatic prostate cancer, or tumor pathology
  • A family history of a hereditary cancer syndrome/genetic mutation

Individuals who are recommended to undergo a hereditary cancer risk assessment have the option of meeting in person with a genetic counselor in Marshfield, or to undergo an appointment via telemedicine, through which more than 30 Marshfield Clinic Health System sites can be reached.

In addition to helping identify individuals at risk for a hereditary cancer syndrome, genetic counselors:

  • Determine the most appropriate genetic test(s) for individuals and their families.
  • Identify the most informative family member to test.
  • Act as a decision support resource by reviewing the pros, cons and possible outcomes of testing.
  • Help match individuals with testing options that are financially feasible.
  • Interpret genetic test results.
  • Perform cancer risk models to provide lifetime cancer risk estimates.
  • Discuss personalized surveillance, preventive care and treatment options for those identified to be at higher risk.
  • Provide information and support resources.

Genetic counselors strive to help educate and empower individuals so they can make informed decisions regarding their health care. 

This leads to opportunities for more personalized and proactive medical management.

For more information on cancer genetic evaluation, contact Medical Genetics at 715-221-7400 or toll free at 1-877-216-8535. 

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