Cancer Genetic Assessments

Approximately 10 percent of cancer is due to an inherited mistake — called a mutation — in a gene that is passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes more than one family member will have cancer when a family has an inherited cancer mutation. If cancer runs in your family, your medical team may suggest a cancer genetic assessment to find out if your cancer is hereditary.

For the genetic assessment, the cancer genetic counselor gathers information about your medical history and your family history. The genetic counselor will talk to you about whether you need genetic testing and what testing is available. The genetic counselor will also explain to you what genetic test results may tell you about your and your family’s risk of cancer.

Finally, the genetic counselor will give you personalized recommendations and suggest things you can do to prevent cancer. If you qualify for testing, most insurances will cover genetic testing. You may be able to get financial help, too. If you choose to pursue testing, the genetic counselor will arrange testing.

The UNM Cancer Center’s Hereditary Cancer Assessment Program provides cancer genetic counseling and testing. It is available for people with cancer and for those without cancer who want to learn if they have a higher risk of getting cancer based on their family history.

In most cases, people with an increased risk of hereditary cancer are those who:

  • have family members with more than one type of cancer;
  • have two or more family members with related or same types of cancers;
  • were diagnosed with certain cancers (such as breast, uterine, and colon cancer) before age 50;
  • have ovarian, pancreatic, or metastatic prostate cancer or individuals without cancer who have a first- or second-degree relative with one of these cancers; and/or
  • have 10 or more colon polyps.

Ask your doctor if you would benefit from cancer genetic counseling and testing.

For more information, call 505-925-0156.