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Understanding Genetic Counseling

By Brook White ScM, CGC, Genetic Counselor

Much thought and research has been devoted to the question, “What causes cancer?” Often, there is no simple answer. Factors such as gender, age, environment and family history may affect a person’s risk.

Five to 10 percent of cancer is inherited— caused by differences, or mutations, in a person’s genetic code. Everyone has mutations, some of which make a person more high risk for developing cancer.

It is important to know if a cancer is inherited. Because mutations can mean greater risk for developing cancer, some people may choose increased cancer screening or surgery. Genetic information is also important to family members, as mutations can be passed from parent to child. Cancer treatment plans may be altered for individuals recently diagnosed with cancer.

Not everyone will benefit from genetic testing. Genetic counselors are healthcare providers who help doctors and patients determine who would benefit from genetic testing. Levine Cancer Institute has four cancer genetic counselors who are master’s level professionals certified or eligible through the American Board of Genetic Counselors.

To schedule an appointment with a Genetic Counselor, call 704-381-6810.

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