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Cancer Risk and Genetic Assessment

While most cancers are not inherited, family history is important to identify people at higher risk for certain cancers.

Sporadic cancer: Most cancers occur sporadically in individuals who have no family history of this type of cancer. Factors that increase your risk for cancer include age, environmental exposures, cigarette smoking, etc.

Familial cancer: Having a family history of certain types of cancer can increase your risk for this type of cancer. Although partially due to genetic factors, risk may be increased because we are more likely to share other risk factors in common with our close family members.

Hereditary cancer: Hereditary cancer is caused by an error in a gene that is passed from generation to generation within a family. Individuals who are born with this genetic error have a higher chance of developing certain types of cancers. Hereditary cancer risk may be linked to more than one type of cancer. Being born with a genetic error also does not guarantee that you will develop cancer.

Do I need genetic counseling for hereditary cancer?

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Four genetic counselors are here to help you and your providers.

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If any of the following applies to you or your family members, genetic counseling may be appropriate.

  • Cancer diagnosed at a young age
  • More than one primary cancer (not due to spread from the initial cancer site)
  • Several family members with cancer (the same type or different types)
  • Diagnosis with a rare cancer (for example, ovarian, sarcoma or male breast cancer)
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry
  • A known hereditary cancer syndrome in your family

Patients who do not have a hereditary cancer syndrome still can have an increased cancer risk. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Familial patterns of cancer
  • Multiple breast biopsies
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS; lobular neoplasia), atypical ductal hyperplasia or atypical lobular hyperplasia in the breast found on breast biopsy
  • Adenomatous polyps found on colonoscopy

What to expect during your visit

A visit to The Gregory and Lorraine Harper Cancer Risk and Genetic Assessment Program at Lehigh Valley Health Network will include a visit with a board-certified genetic counselor who will meet with you and provide the following services:

  • Assessment of your personal and/or family history of cancer
  • Education about cancer risk factors and sporadic vs. hereditary cancer
  • A personalized risk assessment for hereditary cancer syndromes
  • Review of the benefits and limitations of genetic testing and discussion on whether you are a candidate for testing – this does not mean that you are required to have genetic testing
  • Recommendations for cancer screening and a risk-reduction plan tailored to your level of risk
  • Information about available research studies
  • Ongoing follow-up visits for patients who have an identified inherited cancer syndrome

A joint consultation with a physician will be coordinated when it is important to review recommendations for reducing your risk for developing cancer and to follow on-going cancer screening process.

Our team of specialists is available in person and by phone to provide you with ongoing support throughout your risk assessment process.

Confidentiality

We regard all medical information as your personal property. We will not release any information from your medical records, including genetic test results, without your prior written authorization. Federal laws are in place to protect patients against discrimination. Health insurers are not able to use family history information, consultations with a genetic counselor or genetic test results to change the cost of insurance or deny or terminate a person’s coverage.

Payment for services

The majority of medical insurance companies cover this service. Our financial coordinators are available to help you, if needed.

Contact us

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call The Gregory and Lorraine Harper Cancer Risk and Genetic Assessment Program at Lehigh Valley Health Network at 610-402-8787.

Located at:

Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest
1240 Building, Suite 310
Allentown, PA 18103

How You Can Help Our Mission How You Can Help Our Mission

This is a non-profit organization. Please consider donating to help heal, comfort and care.

Learn more »